Since WordCrafter Press holds a paranormal short fiction contest each year, I’m always on the lookout for a good ghost story, and since this year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger, revolves around settings, haunted places have been of particular interest to me. According to paranormal investigator, Connor Randall, in his csindy.com inteview (May 12-18, 2021) with Heidi Beedle, “In terms of ghosts, liminal places are key,” he says. “A liminal place being a location that is in between… They’re places that are locations of transition…”, which “seem to attract more haunting energy.” Which is why hotels are common locations of ghost hunts. To my thinking, a hotel which was originally a hospital would be even more likely to be a liminal place.
Said to be one of the most haunted places in an old mining town that is reputed to have its fill of ghosts, my stay at the Hotel St. Nicholas, in Cripple Creek, Colorado featured a few occurances that may have been close encounters of the ghostly kind. There are rumors of hauntings all over Cripple Creek, but when I saw the 120 year old Victorian building perched on a hillside, I was convinced that ghosts roam its halls, just from looking at it. This is the kind of place where ghost stories are born. (You can read a full history of both Cripple Creek and the Hotel St. Nicholas on the Hotel St. Nicholas website.)
I’m not a professional ghost hunter, but I’ve had my share of ghostly encounters in my lifetime. I don’t have a bunch of fancy apps and special ghost finding equipment. Also, I didn’t want my experience to be influenced by the tales that went with the hotel, so I waited to do my research until after I had spent a night in Room 12.
The hotel itself has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere with many authentic Victorian furnishings throughout. I went there during the off-season, so there were only a handful of other guests and I was able to wander through the halls and peek into the unoccupied rooms, as each room is unique in this boutique B&B.
The building was originally a hospital run by The Catholic Sisters of Mercy, a group of nuns who offered medical care to the mining community, so many of the rooms have been converted to accomodate individual bed & bath. (There are actually two rooms that have private baths across the hall.)
On the lower level of this three story Inn, you’ll find The Boiler Room Tavern, which is open on weekends and sporadically during the week. The accompanying parlor area features a bar, a sitting area with table and chairs from the Victorian era, fireplace, piano and billiards table. I didn’t feel or smell or hear anything odd while enjoying this unique boutique atmosphere, but someone or something was helping me with billairds, because I kept winning.
The lights above the bar may have given of a few mysterious flickers that could easily have been written off as faulty wiring, but just looking up the back staircase, raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I later learned that this staircase area is where a ghost called “Stinky”, due to the raw sewage smell that accompanies his manifestation, is reported to be encountered the most. I believe that I met Stinky, although my room was on the third floor, and the back stairs only go to the second floor, as I smelled a rather rank smell several times throughout the night. (On a later date I stayed in Room 1, which is right at the top of the back stairway, on the second floor, but neither Stinky nor any other spirits came out to say, “Hello”, on that visit.) According to Legends of America, Stinky may also be seen as an old miner with no upper body, as well as the ghost of a small boy named Petey, who is often thought responsible for “stealing ciggarettes and moving objects about”. Good thing I quit smoking.
In addition to experiencing unexplainable olefactory encounters with Stinky, while lying in bed whispers were also heard outside the door of Room 12, accompanied by a feeling of shame, as if I’d been caught in a state of undress and told to cover myself, although the actual words could not be made out. When I later learned that the nuns occupied the third level of the building, with patient rooms on the lower floors, this experience seemed to make a lot more sense. In addition to its original use as a hospital, the building has been used as a boarding house or stood vacant until it was opened as the Hotel St. Nicholas.
Both of my visits to the Hotel St. Nicholas were enjoyable experiences, with or without the ghosts. But, keep in mind that I wasn’t really looking for ghosts when I decided to stay there, and I only connected any odd experiences to the ghosts reputed to haunt there after the fact, because I didn’t do any research until the following morning. Maybe that is why they made their presence known to me, because I had no expectations. It’s not surprising that I had no encounters on my second visit either, because my expectations had changed on that visit. I mean, think about it. If you were a ghost, would you want to appear on demand when ghost hunters show up with all their fancy apps and gadgets, like you were some sort of circus sideshow? I know I wouldn’t.
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On the way to my parents’ house, I pass an insane asylum. It has all the key characteristics to making it creepy.
Broken windows? Check.
Overgrown, crumbling porch? Check.
Mysterious past? Check.
By “mysterious,” I mean that everyone I talk to has a different story about it. Most people say that one time “long ago,” the inmates rebelled and its been closed ever since. Of course there are stories about those inmates still trapped inside. Not sure how they could still be trapped with broken doors…
Some people tell me they used to sneak inside. Some say evil things happened inside. There is a huge chain-link fence surrounding the rambling building right now, so no one can sneak inside anymore.
When looking it up, there is very little information about the abandoned psychiatric center.
Driving by it so often inspired so many thoughts for a story. Did I want to write about an inmate? Would it be a work of historic fiction or a mystery?
A ghost story took form, and along came HAWTHORNE HIGH. What happens if an old psychiatric center is transformed into a haunted high school? Find out in this young adult novella.
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult author who is obsessed with history and ghosts. You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.
People love to be scared, especially within a safe environment. That’s why the horror genre will always be popular. Sitting around trying to scare one another by telling ghost stories or urban legends is a passtime enjoyed and induldged by young and old alike. It’s one of the reasons Hallowen is a favorite holiday for many, with haunted houses and ghost stories and a monster around every corner.
But telling ghost stories to pass the time on a stormy night isn’t any type of new passtime. In fact, two hundred years ago, on a damp and dreary night, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstien was created on just such an occassion, when a challenge was issued to see who could invent the best scary story. Today’s monsters may be digitally enhanced, but we still enjoy sharing their stories, searching for an inkling of fear or a rush of adrenaline to get our hearts pumping.
That’s why I hope you’ll all drop in and join in the fun at the Sonoran Dawn’s Dead Man’s Party today on Facebook, where myself and other authors will be reading scary stories, playing games and holding giveaways. Many of the authors from the Dark Visions anthology, which I reviewed this past month, including Writng to be Read team member Jordan Elizabeth, and AtA panel member, Dan Alatorre, who compiled and produced the anthology which climbed up the ratings for best horror anthology rapidly following its release. I gave the anthology five quills and it is well worth the read. I’m excited to be reading a few of their stories for them, as well as my own The Haunting of Carrol’s Woods, and can’t wait to hear the audio recordings of the other’s stories, too. I hope you will join us. It may be scary, but it will be fun.
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Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with ghosts. Recently at work, someone drew a house on a whiteboard and everyone added something to the picture. I added a ghost screaming from an upstairs window.
Writing a short ghost story has always been a fun activity for a rainy afternoon. After compiling two steampunk anthologies, I decided to take a turn compiling one on ghost stories. I imagined it sitting on the shelves of local gift shops; the cover would show a ghost girl floating down a hallway of peeling wallpaper and cobwebs. With this in mind, I reached out to my critique partners, author friends, writing workshop attendees, and writing club members. They had a year to get me a short story or two. I wrote a few, and as stories trickled in, I put them together in a word document. We brainstormed ideas for a title and settled on “Ghosts Cast No Shadows.”
Once I had a selection of almost thirty stories, I submitted the manuscript to the publisher. The majority of the stories were accepted, but a few were rejected, and I had to break several hearts by telling writers their story didn’t make it in.
After the list of accepted stories was finalized, it was time for editing. Each story went across the desk of an editor twice, followed by a once-over with a proofreader. The proofreader was a different editor who could come into the anthology with new eyes. With the editing process over, we got to work on a cover. We’d originally submitted a worksheet of cover ideas, but the publisher felt a different style would be in order. The talented Eugene Teplitsky put together the current cover depicting a man haunted by his past and plagued by death. Ghost books, they felt, were too involved with Halloween. They wanted our anthology to be marketable year-round. This strategy meant we would need to change the title. “Ghosts Cast No Shadows was shortened to “Cast No Shadows.”
The book was in place and the release date was set for October 6, 2016.
We organized a cover reveal and blog tour for the release. Reviewers offered their services to help spread the word. I tentatively set up signings for the end of October through December. I had to hurry because my son was due October 18 of the same year. I didn’t want any of the release buzz to fall through the cracks. (I also naively assumed I would feel up to doing a signing despite just having a baby.)
The book came out to meet with rave reviews. (You can read Kaye’s review of the book here.) The blog tour sparkled. While the ebook sold, the paperback remained unavailable. My son arrived earlier than expected, and in no way did I feel like doing a book signing. They were postponed to the spring. Because of technical difficulties, the paperback still wasn’t available in the spring, and the signings were cancelled until further notice. When the paperback did release a year later, we were all set to push it.
The group of us who live locally (listed in order as they appear in the picture above: Elizabeth Zumchuk, Joan O. Scharf, Tracina Cozza, Jordan Elizabeth, Jeremy Mortis, W. K. Pomeroy, and James McNally) did our rounds wearing matching CAST NO SHADOWS T-shirts. The libraries welcomed us and in front of audiences, we talked about what inspired our individual stories and read the first pages. We sold copies to eager readers. Every October we do our rounds again. We stand together in our shirts with the books open in front of us.
It feels so mysterious to stand in front of an audience telling the story of a ghost who wanders dilapidated hallways seeking a future she will never find.
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author. CAST NO SHADOWS is her third anthology published by Curiosity Quills Press. Jordan can be found wandering the empty houses and shadowed woods of Upstate New York searching for ghosts.
Ghost stories have always fascinated me. I’m obsessed with history, so I see ghosts as a link to the past. They’re our chance to communicate with those who came before. Plus, the mystery surrounding ghosts is fascinating.
Ghost stories are prevalent in young adult fiction, as well as non-fiction. Whenever I visit a new locale, I always check out books on local ghosts. You can see I love ghosts, right? They tend to drift into my writing more often than not. My young adult novel, VICTORIAN, centers around ghosts in an abandoned village where visitors come to relive the past. ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW features a ghost child trapped by a witch’s curse. TREASURE DARKLY tells the story of Clark Treasure, a young man who receives the gift of communicating – and raising – the dead.
Oftentimes, I’m asked if I believe in ghosts. That’s a big yes. I’ve even experienced a few ghostly happenings.
Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had people say my name, voices no one else hears. It doesn’t happen all the time and the voices never answer if I reply. I always turn to find no one behind me. The earliest time I can remember was when I was driving by Lake Delta. A voice came from beside me on the back seat. “Jordan!” No one was there and my parents hadn’t heard it. More recently (a few years ago), I was working in a renovated woolen mill. This building of weathered brick was infamous in the neighborhood for its hauntings. I never saw or felt a presence, but twice a female called my name from directly behind me when I was alone in an office with a closed door – and the only other person in the building was a male custodian.
I was a recent high school graduate when one of my grandmother’s close friends passed away. She and I were in her bedroom when the phone rang, My dog – the only one else in the house – was also in the bedroom. While my grandmother was learning about the passing from her friend’s daughter, a box of candy flew off the kitchen table and slid across the floor. It had been on the center of the table and we hadn’t experienced an earthquake. Nothing else in the house moved. I like to think it was the friend’s way of saying goodbye.
The other ghostly goodbye came while I was at my then-boyfriend’s house. I suddenly had an eerie feeling. The world wasn’t quite right. After a few minutes, I went to get a drink. As soon as I walked into the other room, a female voice said my name directly behind me. Almost instantly, the eerie feeling passed. I learned the next day that my father’s aunt had died. I’d only met her a few times, but perhaps she had done her rounds through the family to say farewell.
I’ve been on plenty of ghost tours, but only once did I catch an orb on film. A local church is connected to a mansion with giant pillars, beautiful windows, and embellished rooms. The mansion is breathtaking. A friend hooked my parents and I up with an exclusive tour. Many people have claimed to have experienced ghostly happenings, but we didn’t see or feel anything. I did, however, catch a clear orb in a picture of the upstairs sitting room. Ghost or dust? I like to think it’s a ghost saying hello.
Have you had any ghostly experiences? If you have, share them with us below!
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author. She may or may not be staring at a supposedly haunted house trying to see faces in the windows. You can connect with Jordan – and point her in the direction of some paranormal activity – via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.
Cast No Shadows is a Curiosity Quills Press anthology of ghost stories for YA readers, but some may not be what you’d expect when you think of ghost stories. Stories such as The Last Act of Keri and Trent by Derek McFadden or Nellie’s Playmate by Lorna McDonald Czarnota use a different POV to tell their tale, and aren’t crafted to bring goosebumps to the flesh, but to unfold a ghost’s story in a creative way.
In other stories seeing and/or talking to ghosts is treated as a common every day occurrence. Stories such as Amity or Tillie in Utica by Jordan Elizabeth, Ghostly Affection by Grace M. DeLeesie, The Sun Valley Bistro by Kae T. Quinn, Ghosts of Holy Cross by Ashley Pasco, Graveyard Dust by Heather Talty, A Minor Matter of Deatb by W. K. Pomeroy, Death of a Necromancer by Misha Murphy, Ghost of Shadmoor Park by Grant Eagar, and Simon and the Ghost by Jeremy Mortis are crafted to entertain and make readers think, rather than to scare.
Still other stories in this collection are intended to surprise readers with the unexpected, as in Attic Secrets by Ashley Pasco, The Regal by Jeremy Mortis, Dark Rider by Amy L. Gale, The Sailor by Lisa Oaks, Sarah by Rachel Pond, The Staircase by Clare Weze, A Trace of Time by Joan O. Scharf, Try Me by Christine Blake, or Yankee Inn by Jordan Elizabeth.
Which is not to say that you’ll find no stories here that contain that eerie scare factor. It’s a large anthology, and stories like Faceless by James McNally, This Ol’ Haunted House by Gloria Slade, Jacked by A. F. Plant, Silent Opera and Swamp by Joan O.Scharf are aimed at stirring up that creepy feeling within readers.
Stories that I feel did this the best were Moving in with the Ghost by A Elizabeth Zumchak, Sweet Hollow Road by C. K. Raggio, House on Hazlenut Lane and The Blood Stained Handkerchief by Jordan Elizabeth. These four would be the five quill stories out of the entire collection, the ones that replay in your mind when you lay down to sleep at night.
Overall, I thought this anthology was a great group of ghost stories for a YA audience. Even the scariest ones achieved the effect without being too gruesome or violent. I give Cast No Shadows four quills.
Kaye gives honest book reviews and she does not charge for them. If you have a book you would like reviewed contact Kaye at kayebooth[at]yahoo[dot]com.
I recently had the pleasure of editing The Fishing Trip: A Ghost Story, by Chris Key’s. It was a pleasure for three reasons: first, it is a thrill to work with Chris, who has chosen to develop his writing talents, after proving his abilities in several other career areas, including the political arena, and advertising and marketing – experience that he brings to the writing desk with him; second, I consider Chris to be a friend, as well as a colleague; and third, I love a good ghost story. For these reasons also, it is a pleasure to write a review for the e-book story. So even though my opinion might be slightly biased, I will admit that freely, and then present to you my review without further adieu.