Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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“The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits is riveting. The characters are wonderful, the subplots are perfect, and the setting is stunning and well-researched. This series is like a roller coaster that goes up and up – the Mannings are literary gold.”

-QL Pearce, bestselling author of over 100 books, inlcuding the Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs series and film tie-in books for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time.

Christmas Spirits is available now on AMAZON.

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How did they celebrate Christmas in England in 1788? They didn’t have Christmas trees yet – well, except for the Mannings of Ravencrest. Father Christmas wore green, and they were in the midst of a Little Ice Age, so the Thames occasionally froze solid near London Bridge. What did Londoners do? They held Frost Fairs. That’s where our tale starts, out on the ice, but soon we travel to Ravencrest Manor (before it was imported stone by stone to America in the 1800s) where we meet a rather arcanely-inclined physician and his raven, Odin, several ghosts, and a baby-eating witch. That’s based on fact, too. She’s a relative of the Lancashire witches and next week we’re going to blog about them. So come join us at Ravencrest for holiday cheer, ghosts, magick, and gore. We’ve got it all!

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Horror for the Holidays

The Manning children, Thad and Cynthia, have asked their father for a Christmas story from Ravencrest’s past. Eric Manning is reluctant to spill the manor’s horrific secrets to his kids, but as Dickens proved with A Christmas Carol, Yuletide is a time for ghosts, and perhaps the Manning children are ready for the truth about their home. Or some of it, at least…

You’ve Met Them in Death; Now Meet Them in Life

London, 1788. When tragedy strikes at the Frost Fair, Edward and Alice Manning return with their children to Ravencrest Manor, where their son can be tended to by their own family doctor, Bran Lanval. But curses and spells have been cast and witchcraft is afoot. When Edward’s younger brother, Thomas, rides to join them for lavish Christmas parties, not everything is merry and bright on the heath. As the year draws to a close, the ghosts of Ravencrest silently watch, waiting for Death to arrive at the dance.

The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits, is available now at Amazon.

The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits is riveting. The characters are wonderful, the subplots are perfect, and the setting is stunning and well-researched. This series is like a roller coaster that goes up and up – the Mannings are literary gold.”
-QL Pearce, bestselling author of Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Christmas Spirits can be read as a stand-alone novella, but it is also the fourth installment of the gothic serial thriller, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. You can get the first three installments of the series in one specially-priced omnibus: The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows.

Coming in a few days, we’re proud to present our big holiday special, The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits.

While it is the fourth installment of The Ghosts of Ravencrest, you don’t need to be following the serial novel to enjoy Christmas Spirits. It is a stand-alone novella, a ghostly Christmas tale that takes place in London in 1788. We visit the historic Frost Fair on the frozen Thames River and spend Christmas at a country manor house that’s full of murder, intrigue, and all sorts of ghostly goings-on intermingled with Father Christmas, sugar plums, and carols of the period.

If you’re following the serial novel, you’ll get lots of clues about what’s going on in modern-day Ravencrest Manor, too. You can pick up the first three episodes (The New Governess, Awakening, and Darker Shadows) as an omnibus titled The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows at Amazon. (Soon, this edition – and Christmas Spirits – will be available in all reader formats.)

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You know what our favorite thing about Christmas is? TV of course!! And ghost stories.

Ghosts and Christmas go together like weenies and beans. Soap and towels. Cat pee and Grandma. Brain-death and DirectTV. Puberty and shame. Prom and a bucket of blood.

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Christmas is tied to ghosts almost as strongly as Halloween, thanks only in part to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Christmas arrives as the year dies. Morning arrives late, night falls early, life is at its lowest ebb… as are our attention spans and tolerance for long-winded, meandering stories about the human heart’s capacity for love, forgiveness, and kindness. And for this utter lack of patience, we blame Charles Dickens. Thanks, Chuck!

But imagine it’s just a century or two ago, and you’re sitting by the hearth on a cold winter’s night, the only illumination coming from the the fire, the lanterns,  candles and the monks sitting in the corner doing their fancy parchment work. In those days, you couldn’t get away from those pesky light-bearing monks and their gold ink. In fact, that’s why, to this day, a group of the little bald-headed fellows is referred to as an “infestation of monks.”

And if you were insane, of course, you had candlelight from your Christmas tree. Fire insurance must have been outrageously expensive back then. Instead of checking to see if you qualify for safe driver bonuses, they would have checked to see how many houses you’ve burned down in the past five years. It’s pretty ridiculous that OSHA didn’t step in, really, but who are we to judge?

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Anyway, we take light for granted. In 1788 London, where our Ravencrest holiday tale is set, there was no electricity for light and heat. There was only candle and lantern light besides the hearth and, of course, the glow of your own healthy skin, which was obtained because there was no Burger King and you had no choice but to eat your fresh fruits and vegetables, of which there were none, since it was winter; the gas lamp was around the corner, but it would be decades before many houses had this luxury. And microwaves. And hot rollers. These things came much later.

Imagine the dark, whether in a city, the countryside, or within the syphilis-soaked confines of the local opium den-turned-cathouse. There were orders for every house facing the street to put out at least one lantern from 6 pm to 11 pm to illuminate the way for passersby – you were fined a shilling if you didn’t comply. That was almost the same cost as a reasonably-priced hooker with the majority of her teeth! And inside the house, there was never enough light to illuminate the dark corners where ghosts hide.

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And there were ghosts everywhere. Seriously. In fact, every time you sneezed, it meant there was a ghost nearby, hence the expression, Bless You. In those days there were no television psychics to help our loved ones into the light, so it wasn’t uncommon to find misguided phantoms tangled in your hair, wandering aimlessly through your outhouses, inadvertently devouring your child’s soul, or even getting stuck betwixt your teeth after breast-stroking through your porridge. And this is why Goldilocks had to go for a walk that fateful day. Ghosts hate really hot porridge.

And speaking of hot porridge, we have compiled a list of our favorite Christmas ghosts on television because we feel very strongly that ghosts on television are taken for granted these days.

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Imagine the 1700s, when all you got were 12 basic channels and every single one of them was just another live broadcast chronicling the various stages of construction of Marie Antoinette’s latest obnoxious hairstyle. And if you didn’t want to see her hair in that particular phase of styling, you had to physically bitch and ring a bell in your maidservant’s general direction to get her to change the channel. Seriously. Times were hard. But now, since television is less of a hassle to watch and has gone on to invade every single possible fucking aspect of our lives, up to and including the most sacred of holidays, here is our list. Do take take note that we’ve only included what we, as horror writers, enjoy. You will find very little in the way of warm fuzziness here. Yeah, baby. Let’s get on with this. We’ll mark our favorites with a star. Like this* And we will bold it, too. Like this. Except it will be italicized. Like this.

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SUPERNATURAL (Netflix Streaming)

*A Very Supernatural Christmas (Season 3, Episode 8)

(This episode is contains pure horror satisfaction – and a lot of blood)

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THE X-FILES  (Netflix Streaming)

*How the Ghosts Stole Christmas, Season 6 Episode 6

(A modern classic.)

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FAMILY GUY (Netflix Streaming)

A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas

*Road to the North Pole

Jesus, Mary & Joseph

Christmas Guy

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BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (Netflix Streaming)

Amends: Season 3, Episode 10 Amends (15 Dec. 1998)


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SOUTH PARK (Available Free on-line)
*Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo

It’s Christmas in Canada

Starvin Marvin in Space

Red Sleigh Down

Woodland Critter Christmas Season

Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics

Merry Christmas Charlie Manson

A Very Crappy Christmas Season

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BOB’S BURGERS (Netflix Streaming)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins

Christmas in the Car

Bob’s Burgers: Father of the Bob

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AMERICAN DAD (Netflix Streaming)

The Best Christmas Story Never Told

The Most Adequate Christmas Ever

Rapture’s Delight

For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls

American Dad!: Season’s Beatings

*Minstrel Krampus

The Polarizing Express (2010)

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Eureka (Netflix Streaming)

*O Little Town

*Do You See What I See?

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Warehouse 13 (Netflix Streaming)

*Seasons of Belief

*The Yattering and Jack

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GRIMM

Let Your Hair Down

Twelve Days of Krampus

The Grimm Who Stole Christmas

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TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE

Seasons of Belief

The Yattering and Jack

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THE COSBY SHOW (pure horror!)

Getting to Know You

Clair’s Place

Christmas Spirits… coming soon…

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Winter, 1788, the festival on the frozen Thames River.

Baronet Edward Manning and Lady Alice have brought their children, Prudence and Parnell, to London to enjoy the Frost Fair and visit their uncle, Sir Thomas. When tragedy strikes, the Mannings return to Ravencrest where the family doctor can see to their injured son. But no matter what Dr. Lanval does, the young master’s health continues to decline, and soon, the doctor begins to suspect darker forces are at work. Arcane forces.

When a hex bag is discovered under his patient’s bed, Dr. Lanval and Sir Thomas set out on a race against time to catch the spellcaster and try to save Parnell. As Christmas Eve approaches, things have improved and the Manning’s begin their celebrations. Father Christmas arrives… but on his heels comes a new kind of darkness that will forever cast its ominous shadow over the Mannings; a curse powerful enough to span generations… and continents.

For centuries the walls of Ravencrest have been soaked in blood and corruption. And now a new evil has spread its black roots into the very foundations of the manor… and into the Manning bloodline.

The fourth episode of The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits will be available in early December. The first three installments are available now in an omnibus form titled Darker Shadows, at Amazon.

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It was a carnival on the ice. From skating and sledding, to bear-baiting and puppet plays; from horse and coach races to gaming, gambling and lustier pleasures, there was something for everyone. Children went on donkey rides and men could have business cards made by printers who dragged their presses out onto the ice among the shop-tents that lined the frozen river. It was so cold that tree trunks split and merchants kept warm by lighting fires in their tents. It was the Frost Fair of 1788 on the Thames River in London, and it is where you will meet several of the ghosts of Ravencrest… in the flesh.

With the release of the omnibus edition of The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows just before Halloween, we realized that All Hallows’ Eve isn’t the only time rife with ghosts. Christmas is absolutely lousy with spirits, the most famous being Dickens’ Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future.

It’s no wonder, really. Christmas arrives in the dead of winter, as the old year is about die. It’s a single bright spot in a frozen wasteland. Nature sleeps. Plants and trees have lost their leaves and we value evergreens as signs of life and hope that once again, the earth will be reborn. There’s no green grass, nor wheat in the field. The days are short, the nights, long. By morning, hearths grow dark and cold, as do souls.

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Christmas, in all its gaiety, with its songs and bright ornaments and feasts; with its candles and good cheer, is a light in the darkness. It tells us to have hope; it reminds us we are alive. But in the dead of winter, it does not totally assuage the fear that spring will not come, that plants will not resurrect.

In old England, Father Christmas came to visit and festivities went on for twelve days, culminating in January with Twelfth Night, where the Lord of Misrule reigned and sometimes servants traded places with gentry. The parties went on and on, lest winter invade and remind everyone that this is the true season of death. It had to be gotten through with as little loss as possible; it was too cold to dig graves so bodies were stacked, frozen, awaiting the spring thaw.  You did not want to die, so you celerated life with the force of Christmas and Twelfth Night.

No celebration could quite wipe away the fear of winter. The fear of death. People gathered around fireplaces to tell the stories of the ghosts walking the halls and moors, always aware that they might one day walk with them.

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In Ravencrest Manor, ghosts stories were whispered, often fearfully, because in 1788, the mansion was 300 years old and already held more than its share of lost souls. In the next special installment of The Ghosts of Ravencrest: A Ravencrest Christmas, you’ll come face to face with people you’ve already met as spirits, and you’ll discover clues to the mystery that is growing around Ravencrest’s new governess, Belinda Moorland.

A Ravencrest Christmas will be available in early December. Meanwhile, the third installment of our tale, The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows, is available at Amazon. This is an omnibus edition that also includes the first two installments, The New Governess and Awakening as well as the previously unreleased third installment, Darker Shadows, for the special low price of $2.99.

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