Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ParaMysMo 2014: Theresa Argie and Eric Olsen, authors of America's Most Haunted - October 22, 2014

Today we have a special ParaMysMo treat: Guest Blogs by Theresa Argie and Eric Olsen, the authors of America's Most Haunted and hosts of the internet radio show "America's Most Haunted".

How a Haunted Housewife Celebrates Halloween
By Theresa Argie
America’s Most Haunted

For me, Halloween is the end, the crescendo of a long, spectacular season. It’s been months of preparing, getting into the spirit (pardon the pun) of the holiday in true "Haunted Housewife" style. By October 31st, the Willoughby Ghost Walk season is over and the paranormal fundraisers will soon begin. But for that one night, the actual evening of Halloween, I’m not a tour guide, or a ghost hunter, or a paranormal philanthropist. For that night I am just a kid again.

My costume has been meticulously planned for months. Because I live in northeast Ohio, I have to factor in the unpredictability of the weather and the possible need for a quick adjustment. It may be 85 degrees and humid or it could be snowing, you never know. That’s just how it is in Cleveland. My children have to be ready as well. After all, they’re my excuse to trick-or-treat.

Before we embark on the frenzied sugar fest of snack-sized treats, I feed my little goblins dinner. The table is elaborately set with coverings of orange and black. I do my best to set the scene, emulating a picture perfect magazine spread that would make Martha Stewart envious. But I have to go deeper, darker, more Halloweenish than she could ever imagine. Let’s just say my north coast home has an air of authenticity that old Martha can’t touch.

After feeding our faces with the least healthy dinner of the year, we set off to collect our bounty! It’s time to trick-or-treat! I find myself fighting the urge to run ahead, remembering that this is for the kids, I’m only here to escort them safely and keep them from approaching the more questionable houses on the street. Not everyone in the neighborhood gets into the spirit of Halloween. Some close the blinds and shut off the lights as if to ward off the evil little treat-seeking monsters who dare knock on their darkened door.

Hours later, If I’ve done my job properly, the kids return home with a heavy sack of goodies and satisfied smile. They’ve managed not to get hit by a car, trip on their costumes, or swallow any razor blades. I’ve embarrass them just enough with my outrageous and horrifying costume that I’ll be forgiven by next year. My freakish make-up has scared a few toddlers and given the neighbors another reason to think I’m the weirdest mother on the block.

And then it’s done. Porch lights off and candy haphazardly splayed out on the carpet ready to be sorted. A thorough scrub of the kids faces and teeth and they’re off to bed. My stomach hurts and my heart aches. It’s a huge emotional crash for me, a melancholy moment of knowing it’s over. I drown my sorrows in more candy and zone out on a scary movie. I’ll eventually fall asleep, dreaming of monsters and ghosts of every kind. Come tomorrow I’m back to being a grown up.

Goodnight Halloween, I bid you farewell until next year, when I get to be a kid all over again.

The Power of Halloween
Eric Olsen
America's Most Haunted

Our Season of Darkness begins materializing toward the end of September when the doors creak open at haunted attractions and pop-up Halloween stores, heralding the true end of summer.

We check out the stores periodically throughout the season to see what’s new, get decorating and costume ideas, and soak up the commercial-but-creepy ambience. At home, my wife quietly breaks out a few noncommittal fall decorations, which over the next few weeks will be augmented with overt symbols of fear and magic. We ease into our spooky viewing routine: not much outright “horror” per se, at least at first, but Halloween-specific perennials that satisfy the disparate tastes of a 14 year-old girl, 10 year-old boy, and their busy, distracted parents.

Among the never-misses are charming, atmospheric “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown“; wicked and delightful “Hocus Pocus“; Jill Thompson’s imaginative and unhinged “Scary Godmother” specials; oddly touching, insightful “Under Wraps“; and R.L Stine’s towering achievement “When Good Ghouls Go Bad.” “Ghouls” stirs the imagination, plucks the heartstrings, and touches upon something ancient and deep at the end as reanimated townsfolk -- after all, they’re just no-longer-living friends and relatives -- waltz upward into the mist, the magic of Halloween fades and the veil between this world and the next is restored.

The power of Halloween strikes me hardest when October’s full moon arises - this year a lunar extravaganza of Harvest Moon, Blood Moon, and Super Moon conflating on October 8. As I stand outside in the crystalline cool of a silent Northeast Ohio night, I feel a tug from the same effulgent orb as my ancestors, stretching back hundreds and thousands of years. I apprehend the link between the natural and supernatural, inextricably bound, as leaves scream out in colorful agony before falling to their deaths, and all living things begin to hunker down for the winter ahead.

No wonder man’s thoughts have always turned toward the dead -- and their intentions -- at this time of year. Rituals of disguise, appeasement, and distraction have evolved over millennia and are very recognizable today. It is a time of awe, magic, and fear; and is variously know as Samhain, Dios de los Muertos, and Halloween.

America's Most Haunted
The Secrets of Famous Paranormal Places
Theresa Argie and Eric Olsen
Berkley, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Throughout the United States, there are places haunted by souls both malevolent and benign. Places where paranormal activity runs rampant. Places where we can glimpse the other side…

In America’s Most Haunted, “Haunted Housewife” investigator Theresa Argie and journalist Eric Olsen team up to take you on a first-person tour of some of America’s most active paranormal hotspots.

Experience the crawl through the death tunnel where visitors have reported sightings of an inhuman creature that creeps along the walls and ceilings. Walk the decks of the Queen Mary with the hundreds of souls that met their ends in watery graves. And get to know the spirits that wait in jails, mansions, lunatic asylums, and even a stately old hotel.

Combining spine-tingling stories, documented evidence, and interviews with some of the top names in paranormal investigation—including the stars of TV’s “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Adventures,” and more—America’s Most Haunted gives you a terrifying chance to tour our nation’s most famous haunted places.

Are you brave enough to take a look?

About the Authors

Theresa Argie, a.k.a "The Haunted Housewife," is an experienced paranormal investigator who has worked with some of the field's most well-respected experts. Theresa has been on several television shows, including "Paranormal Challenge" and "My Ghost Story." Eric Olsen is a leading journalist in the field of paranormal investigation. He is also a published author, media personality and respected blogger. Together, the two host the internet radio show, "America's Most Haunted."

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Trade Paperback copy of America's Most Haunted by Theresa Argie and Eric Olsen.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on November 7, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ParaMysMo 2014: Sofie Kelly, author of the Magical Cat Mysteries - October 22, 2014

Please welcome Sofie Kelly to The Qwillery! Sofie writes the Magical Cat Mysteries.

It used to be my idea of celebrating Halloween was to cram as many mini Snickers bars as I could into the freezer and then spend Halloween night eating them all. Things that go bump in the night scare me and I might be a tiny bit afraid of the dark, so I was never one to put on a costume and hit the streets. The only pumpkin I like is in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.

So why is she sitting in my living room?

Because the universe, with a perverse sense of humor, gifted me with a child who LOVES Halloween. She’s loved it since her Dad took her to pick out her first pumpkin, since the first time she said, “Boo!”

Even in kindergarten my daughter spent a lot of time planning her costumes. (Yes, costumes. Some years she’s had more than one.) She’s been a bunny, a fairy, a witch, a ghost with her dad as a spooky vampire sidekick, and a Goth girl which gave the vampire cloak a second life. One year she was a mummy, which involved strips torn from a double bed sheet and me following her around all night with a handful of safety pins.

There are ridiculously realistic bats on my living room ceiling at the moment, and a six-foot skeleton in the front window that glows green in the dark. There’s a tombstone in the bathroom, skull lights around the kitchen door, and not one but two pumpkins, and the pièce de resistance, ghoul girl in the living room. (You can see I’m still working on getting the knees right.)

And there are three little Snickers bars in the freezer with my name on them. Literally. Because between you and me, that’s still the part of Halloween I like the best!

Magical Cats Mysteries

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat
A Magical Cats Mystery 1
Signet, February 1, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there's something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville's Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical-and she's relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.

Sleight of Paw
A Magical Cats Mystery 2
Signet, September 6, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson never wanted to be the crazy cat lady. But after Owen and Hercules followed her home, she realized her mind wasn't playing tricks on her-her cats have magical abilities.

When the body of elderly do-gooder Agatha Shepherd is found near Kath's favorite local café, she knows Owen's talent for turning invisible and Hercules's ability to walk through walls will give the felines access to clues Kath couldn't get without arousing suspicion. Someone is hiding some dark secrets-and it will take a bit of furtive investigating to catch the cold-hearted killer.

Copycat Killing
A Magical Cats Mystery 3
Signet, May 1, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Everyone thinks their cats are special—but Owen and Hercules have powers that go far beyond an adorable look or an irresistible purr. Along with their owner, librarian Kathleen Paulson, they have an uncanny instinct for solving crimes...

It's been raining cats and dogs in Mayville Heights. The small town's been deluged, and now the local artists' co-op is on the verge of flooding. Kathleen has been up all night helping her friends move their creations to the safety of the upstairs studio.

The artwork survives, but when controversial mask maker Jaeger Merrill is found drowned in the co-op basement, Kathleen questions whether the death was accidental. After she discovers the artist was using an assumed name, she realizes she can't actually assume anything about him. With the help of handsome detective Marcus Gordon—and her cats' extraordinary powers of detection—it's up to Kathleen to unmask a killer.

Cat Trick
A Magical Cats Mystery 4
Signet, February 5, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Kathleen Paulson enjoys her life as a small-town librarian with two extraordinary cats, Owen and Hercules, who provide companionship during the quiet times and have a remarkable talent for sleuthing when murder disturbs the peace....

The local businesses of Mayville Heights hope to convince Chicago-based company Legacy Tours to sell a vacation package for their town. Legacy Tours partner Mike Glazer grew up in Mayville Heights, but he’s no longer the small-town boy people once knew. Even the local bootlegger has an issue with the bossy loudmouth Mike has become—until someone shuts him up for good.

When Kathleen discovers Mike’s body on the boardwalk, she can’t help but get involved in the investigation—even if her beau, Detective Marcus Gordon, would rather she didn’t. Now, with a little help from Owen and Hercules, it’s up to Kathleen to make sure the killer is booked for an extended stay in prison before someone else takes a permanent vacation.

Final Catcall
A Magical Cats Mystery 5
Signet, October 1, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson gets plenty of entertainment from her extraordinary cats, Owen and Hercules. But when a theatre troupe stumbles into more tragedy than it bargained for, it’s up to Kathleen to play detective....

With her sort-of boyfriend Marcus calling it quits and her ex-boyfriend Andrew showing up out of the blue, Kathleen has more than enough drama to deal with—and that’s before a local theatre festival relocates to Mayville Heights. Now the town is buzzing with theatre folk, and many of them have their own private dramas with the director, Hugh Davis.

When Davis is found shot to death by the marina, he leaves behind evidence of blackmail and fraud, as well as an ensemble of suspects. Now Kathleen, with a little help from her feline friends Owen and Hercules, will have to catch the real killer before another victim takes a final curtain call.

A Midwinter's Tail
A Magical Cats Mystery 6
Signet, October 7, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Kathleen Paulson is snowed under running her library and caring for her extraordinary felines, Owen and Hercules. But when a fund-raiser turns deadly, she’ll have to add sleuthing to her already full schedule....

Winter in Mayville Heights is busy and not just because of the holidays. Kathleen is hard at work organizing a benefit to raise money for the library’s popular Reading Buddies program. She has her hands full hosting the event. And when a guest at the gala drops dead, her magical cats, Owen and Hercules, will have their paws full helping her solve a murder.

The victim is the ex of town rascal Burtis Chapman, but she hasn’t lived in the area in years. And though everybody is denying knowledge of why she was back in town, as Kathleen and her detective boyfriend, Marcus, begin nosing around, they discover more people are connected to the deceased than claimed to be. Now Marcus, Kathleen, and her uncanny cats have to unravel this midwinter tale before the case gets cold.

About Sofie

Sofie Kelly is an author and mixed-media artist who lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. As Sofie Ryan she writes the Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

Website - Sofie Kelly

Website - Sofie Ryan

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of A Midwinter's Tail (A Magical Cat Mystery 6) by Sofie Kelly.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on November 7, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ParaMysMo 2014: Christy Fifield, author of the Haunted Souvenir Shop Mysteries - October 21, 2014

Please welcome Christy Fifield to The Qwillery! Christy writes the Haunted Souvenir Shop Mysteries. Today Glory Martine (owner of the haunted souvenir shop) shares how she celebrates Halloween.

     For most people, Halloween is a big deal. They dress up, throw parties, take their kids trick-or-treating, and have an excuse to eat any candy that's left over after they turn out the lights and extinguish the jack-o-lanterns.

     For most people, Halloween is one night a year of spooks and goblins, witches and monsters. Of ghosts, and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. (OK, some people I know might drag it out for a week or more - I'm looking at you, Ernie. And you too, Felipe.)

     But for me? I live with a ghost every day of the year. And let me tell you, it isn't all fun and games, all candy and apple-bobbing. In fact, it's often a pain in the ... well, you get the picture. But as bad as living with a ghost every day is, it's even worse on Halloween.

     You see, this particular ghost-I can't speak for all ghosts, but I do suspect Uncle Louis may be typical-does not appreciate the appropriation of "his" holiday by the rest of the world.

     Uncle Louis is pretty cantankerous to begin with, even without using a parrot for a spokesbird which adds another layer of testiness. And when you add in the irritation of Halloween? Let's just say this is not my favorite day of the year.

     So how do I celebrate Halloween? I put Bluebeard in his cage, give him some special treats, turn out the lights (except the security lights), close the shop early, and go out for the evening.

     This year that means spending the evening with Jake, handing out treats to the neighborhood kids that will come knocking at his door, and assisting with the disposal of the leftover candy. I'm helpful that way!

     But I have a plan that might change everything. Uncle Louis has a real soft spot for Rose Ann. Ever since Julie started bringing her infant daughter to work with her the cranky old ghost has been crazy about her, and she can do no wrong.

     So instead of just locking up early, I'm going to have Rose Ann visit in her pirate costume. She has a stuffed parrot to sit on her shoulder, but I think Bluebeard is going to insist on that place of honor when we take her picture. In fact, I'm counting on it.

     It's a small step, but it's a step. Parrots live a long time, so we can afford to go slow.

     And Uncle Louis isn't going anywhere.

Haunted Souvenir Shop Mysteries

Murder Buys a T-Shirt
A Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery 1
Berkley, March 6, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

Glory Martine has inherited her uncle's Florida souvenir shop, one stuffed with collectibles, mementos of times gone by--and ghosts--who, like her customers, refuse to let go of the past. But things take an even more unexpected turn when a local football hero dies far too suddenly and suspiciously. Now, Glory has to uncover the truth before someone makes her history...

Murder Hooks a Mermaid
A Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery 2
Berkley, December 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Nestled in Keyhole Bay, Florida, Glory Martine’s souvenir shop, Southern Treasures, is supposed to trap tourists—not ghosts. But a possessed parrot may be just what Glory needs to solve a murder...

Inheriting her great-uncle Louis’s bayside souvenir shop should have been a breeze for Glory. Instead it’s been one headache after another—with a lot of them generated by Bluebeard, a parrot with a mouth like a sailor and a personality a lot like her late great-uncle. But Glory’s troubles pale in comparison to those of her best friend Karen, whose ex may still have the personalized key chain to her heart, but whose brother-in-law is about to get locked up.

A diver has been found with a gaff hook in his chest, and Karen turns to Glory to help get her brother-in-law off the hook for his murder. But casting the net for the real killer won’t be easy. Glory and Bluebeard are about to find out that the secrets in Keyhole Bay run deeper than anyone ever imagined…

Murder Sends a Postcard
A Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery 3
Berkley, January 7, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

It’s the height of summer tourist season and Glory Martine is busier than ever running her souvenir shop, Southern Treasures. The shop’s parrot, Bluebeard, is becoming quite the celebrity among tourists—little do they realize he’s the bird-host to a ghost…

Residents of Keyhole Bay, Florida, are dismayed when Bridget McKenna, an auditor in chic attire, arrives to assess the local bank’s shady dealings. Curious about the new arrival, Glory brings dinner to Bridget at her temporary residence—the notorious Bayvue Estates, a halted development complex with no view and no estates – just a couple of hastily-completed model homes .

Bridget’s assignment is to figure out where all the money went. But someone wants to keep her in the dark permanently. When Glory finds out her new friend won’t be leaving town alive, she knows she and Bluebeard will have to catch a killer and unravel a financial scandal before it leads to more murderous mayhem…


Murder Ties the Knot
A Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery 4
Berkley, March 2, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

A Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery from the author of Murder Sends a Postcard–featuring Down-Home Dinner Menus.

It’s winter in Keyhole Bay, Florida, and while the tourist trade is slow, souvenir shop owner Glory Martine is busy with her best friend’s wedding. But between managing preparations, the bride’s in-laws, and a haunted parrot named Bluebeard, Glory makes plans to catch a killer.

As her friends Karen and Riley approach their wedding day, Glory could use a break from the nuptial madness. She takes a peaceful drive to Alabama’s piney woods to pick up the wedding quilt she ordered from a supplier. But the supplier, Beth, has disappeared along with the quilt and her husband, Everett.

Glory learns that two men were found murdered near Beth and Everett’s home and that the couple is wanted for questioning. Believing they are innocent, Glory convinces them to cooperate with authorities. But when they’re thrown in jail, Glory vows to catch the real killer before one happy couple walks down the aisle and another gets sent up the river.

About Christy

Christy Fifield and Christy Evans are the best-selling mystery-writing alter egos of romance and SF/F novelist Christina F. York. She and her husband, national best-selling novelist J. Steven York, live on the scenic Central Oregon Coast.

Evans wrote the popular Lady Plumber Mystery series, and Fifield writes the Haunted Gift Shop series, including MURDER TIES THE KNOT (March 2015, Berkley Prime Crime). She is launching a new Spy Girls series in spring 2015 with Tsunami Ridge Publishing (

Christy can be found at, or

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of her/his choice of  Murder Buys a T-ShirtMurder Hooks a Mermaid or Murder Sends a Postcard by Christy Fifield.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on November 6, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Extremities by David Lubar

Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge
Author:  David Lubar
Publisher:  Tor Teen, July 22, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 208 pages
List Price:  $9.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765334619 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher
Previous Print Editions:  Hardcover, July 23, 2014

Master of the macabre David Lubar turns his attention to dark and twisted tales for teens with Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge.

A group of high school girls takes revenge on their sadistic gym teacher in the most fitting way possible. Two stowaways find themselves on a ship for the dead. An ancient predator stalks the wrong victim. Here are thirteen tales of death, murder, and revenge from the fertile and febrile imagination of master storyteller David Lubar—his first story collection for the teen audience.

Brannigan's Review

I thought it might be fun to read a few horror books to get me in the mood for Halloween. David Lubar's Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge was a perfectly macabre collection of short stories. It is a collection of thirteen short stories that would be a lot of fun to read to your teens around a campfire or, better yet, in a cemetery. I say that because the parents will enjoy some of his references to long-lost technology and forgotten ideas such as cassettes and video stores.

Lubar does the short story collection right by having a wide assortment of story lengths. He gives you a couple quick fun reads and then a longer story, helping to break up the pace and give you the perfect places to stop. All of the stories are centered around teenagers and their daily struggles that take dark turns for the worst in most cases. Lubar's characters are quickly developed for both sexes and it is easy for the reader to get into their heads.

The book is definitely a horror book that doesn't shy away from being descriptive, but in most cases turns away from the most graphic scenes. Lubar allows the reader's imagination to take care of the most horrific parts for itself. I would also like to mention Jim Kay does an outstanding job of illustrating the inside of the book.

Extremities is a fun quick read to get teens in the mood for Halloween. There is plenty of violence and terror so I would recommend the book to teens that aren't squeamish. There are no issues with language or sexuality that need mentioning. I would also recommend the collection for adults who want to walk down a scarier memory lane.