Thursday, June 26, 2014

Succubus and Incubus

A topic within the paranormal that I have seen grow immensely over the past couple of years is the one involving creatures like the succubus and the incubus. Stories of these beings have been found in Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Assam, Chile, Ecuador, South Africa, and probably more. I've seen these creatures described a couple of different ways, from demons, to witches, to vampires. Where do these myths come from, and what is it about these beings that holds such fascination?

One of the first occurrences of an incubus and a succubus comes from Mesopotamia and the Sumerian King List (2400 BC). Here, the incubus, Lilu, is said to disturb and seduce women, while the succubus, Lilitu, appears in erotic dreams. An older mention of a succubus is with Jewish mysticism and the creature Lilith. According to this story, Lilith was the first woman and didn't want to be submissive to Adam. She left the Garden of Eden and had sex with the archangel Samael, resulting in her transformation into a succubus. Another mythological representation of an incubus comes from the stories of King Arthur. It has been said that Merlin was the son of an incubus, and that's where he received his powers and abilities.  And, of course, Christianity is rife with tales of demons and how one can avoid them.

Some more recent mentions of succubus-like creatures have popped up recently. The SyFy show Lost Girl portrays a female protagonist, said to be Fae, that gains energy by taking the life force of the people around her. She can do this during her sexual encounters, or sometimes by mere touch. American Horror Story: Coven also explored a succubus character. In this show, the succubus was only beginning to understand her powers as a witch. As for the incubus, I haven't seen this type of character come up in movies or television as much. However, I have read a number of books that concern an incubus or two (yes, the same would go for the succubus).

In the days before science, people would often look to the unexplained for answers to their questions. For instance, if a woman's husband passed away and she became pregnant outside of another marriage, it would be acceptable for her to claim an incubus visited her a night. Also, when a man would need to explain why he had a wet dream, a succubus could be an acceptable scapegoat. Today, these explanations seem laughable. However, there are still people that claim to be visited by such demonic entities. Doctors have dismissed these reports as hallucinations, waking dreams, and paralysis.

As for the fascination of these beings, I think it's now becoming more acceptable for people to discuss sex in public. With social norms shifting, many people are now given the freedom of wondering what it might be like to be visited by, or even be, one of these creatures.

What are your thoughts on the incubus or the succubus? Do you know of any other places where these creatures take center stage?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Church of Bones

Okay, guys. When I first came across this topic, admittedly not too long ago, a mixture of excitement and terror enveloped me. Let me tell you about it!

In the suburbs of Kutna Hora, in the Czech Republic, is the Sedlec Ossuary. The chapel is also known as the Church of Bones because it has been artistically decorated with over 40,000 human skeletons. One of the most unique pieces in the chapel is a big chandelier of bones. It's positioned in the center of the ossuary and contains at least one of every bone in the human body. But even though this may seem like a morbid, scary place to visit, it's actually said to be quite peaceful.

In the year 1278, a Cistercian abbot named Henry, went to the Holy Land. Like many tourists, Henry brought back a jar of earth from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When he arrived back to Kutna Hora, Henry sprinkled the cemetery with the earth. When the word of his actions spread, Sedlec became the place to go for burial.

Eventually, there were so many human remains, something had to be done about it. So the ossuary was created, with a monk assigned the task of arranging the bones. More than 300 years later, a woodcarver, Frantisek Rindt, was asked to arrange the bones in a decorative way. You can read more about the Sedlec Ossuary at The pictures are extraordinary!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Own Nightmarish (Dreamy) Experience

First off, let me apologize for my extended absence. I became sick for a while, and it was quite miserable. Then I needed to get a few things together in order to attend my very first writer's conference, the topic of this blog post.

Over the past weekend, I was lucky enough to have attended the 22nd annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference: Write Here, Write Now, Make It Happen. I signed up for the event months ago, and that's when the giddiness began in my tummy. I was so excited about the idea of hanging out with a bunch of other writers, people just like me. As the date approached, the giddiness mixed with nervousness.

When I registered for the conference, I marked the little box that would allow me to submit the first page of my Work In Progress (WIP). The option I chose would permit me to remain anonymous, while another person read my submission to a panel, which consisted of an agent, an author, and an editor. So, at least I wouldn't need to read my WIP out loud while industry professionals tore it apart, and the audience laughed in my face, right? But the thought of this critique still had me nervous. What if they didn't like it? What if I was told that I was the worst writer ever, and I should just go back to being a regular stay-at-home mom? Gasp!

Another option I chose at registration was a pitch appointment. A pitch is when a writer speaks with an agent or editor about their book. If the industry professional likes what they hear, they can ask to see the writer's work. Simple, right? I could talk about my writing. Trouble is, I'm terribly shy. Again, what if the agent/editor I talked with laughed at me? What if I forgot what my book is about? Hey, it could happen!

Like I said above, I'm a shy person. I liked the idea of talking with other writers, it always makes for a great time. But what if I didn't run into anyone I knew and had to sit alone in a corner? Or what if I was talking with someone and I said something wrong? I didn't want to offend anyone.

But here's what really happened:

I did have my first page read to a panel for critique. I received some great advice for strengthening my writing, but the ridicule and laughter I feared definitely did not occur. I was nervous when the time for my pitch appointment neared. But a wonderful friend sat down with me and helped me practice what I would say. She really calmed my nerves, so when I walked into the pitch room, I remembered what I needed to.  As for being alone and without friends, I couldn't have been more wrong. I've been a member of an online writing community for about a year now, and where not many of us knew each other in person, we knew every one's names. I was able to meet at least half of my online friends face-to-face at the conference, and each of them was as excited to meet me, as I was excited to meet them. I'm sure I put my foot in my mouth while talking with someone over the weekend. But no one called me out on it, so I'll let it go. Finally, not a single person at the conference would have told me to stop writing. The amount of support and encouragement present was empowering! 

My experience has reminded me that, we humans, fear the unknown. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone, always a scary thing. But whether we are writers, doctors, soldiers, students, or what-not, if we don't step out of our own little boxes every now and again, we will never grow as people, never reach our dreams.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Bit of a Break

For the past week or so, I have been battling some sort of illness. It comes and goes, and it seems to be a nasty little virus. I am also gearing up to attend a writers conference at the end of the month. For these two reasons, I plan to take the next few weeks away from this blog. I plan on returning once I am healthy and the conference is over.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Medusa is the creature from Greek Mythology who had snakes for hair and could turn people to stone if they looked directly into her eyes. Most people think of evil when they hear her name. But I've always felt drawn to her story, and hold a sort of pity for her.

Medusa wasn't always hideous. In fact, she was a beautiful maiden with fabulous golden hair. She was a priestess of Goddess Athena, and so she, like all of her fellow priestesses, took a vow of chastity. However, Medusa fell in love with Poseidon, God of the Sea, and the two were wed.

For Medusa's breach of vows, Goddess Athena transformed her into a monster. Medusa's beautiful golden locks were morphed into snakes, her eyes became red, and her milky white skin was changed to a greenish hue.

With her new serpent-like form, Medusa fled her home and became a recluse. Stories and rumors were spread about her, thus causing her to be very angry. Medusa finally met her match, when Perseus delivered her to the hands of death.

I was in the eighth grade when I began to study Greek Mythology and heard the story of Medusa for the first time. Her tale was then, and still is one of my favorites. What do you make of her story?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Rack


Two simple words - the rack.  For some, these words may bring about happy thoughts of shopping in a very popular department store chain.  Other people may snicker while thoughts of female anatomy run through their heads.  But for me, these two words instill sadness and fear.  Want to know why?

"The rack" conjures mental images of a medieval torture device that was commonly used to force people to confess to wrong-doing, or to give up information.  It was a form of torture that was meant to be a last-ditch type of option.  In other words, "milder" methods of torture were supposed to be used before the rack would be considered.  Personally, I would really hope to not have an over-zealous torturer! 

The rack was a piece of equipment, generally made of wood, where its victim would be bound by the wrists at one end and by the ankles at the other end.  A crank or wheel would then be maneuvered, resulting in the tightening of the ropes.  There was a possibility of loud popping noises because ligaments and other internal things could be snapped.  Sometimes the device would be cranked too much (whether intentionally or not), and the victim would be rendered paralyzed as a result of dislocation, or possible separation of a limb. 

Needless to say, this form of torture was excruciatingly painful on its own.  However, often times other methods of torture were applied while the rack's victim was stretched. People would often be burnt, pinched, or have their finger and toe nails ripped off as well. 

Though I haven't come across it in my research, it is to my understanding that the rack is no longer used - anywhere.  However, in the height of its time, variations of this device were used throughout Europe.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Robert the Doll

Do you remember the 1988 movie Child's Play, which spawned many sequels?  Well, believe it or not, there's some truth to that story.

In Key West, in the year 1906, a man said to have been trained in black magic and voodoo gave a doll to a little boy.  The magical man was angry with the boy's family, but he gave the boy a "gift" anyway.  The doll he gave to the boy resembles a 20th century Naval officer.  At first, the boy's parents thought it was cute that their son would talk to his little companion and then speak in a different voice for the answer.  It soon became evident that the boy was not throwing his voice, but the toy was actually talking back!  Some other things Robert the Doll has been said to do are facial movements and knocking furniture over.  The little boy eventually grew up and when he passed away in 1974, Robert the Doll was shoved to the attic.  When a new family moved in, a ten-year-old little girl became the proud new owner of the forgotten toy.  Strange occurrences began to happen again.  It's been over thirty years, and she still holds to the story she told in childhood - the doll wanted to kill her.

As I've never had the chance to visit Key West, I've not had the opportunity to see Robert the Doll for myself.  However, I do remember watching the movie that his story inspired.  I was a little girl then, but it still became one of my favorites.  I liked the second movie too, possibly more than the first.  Even as I sit here and type this, I have a smile on my face just thinking how that second movie was set at a military school, and I am now a military wife.  Just a little strange coincidence, but I digress.  Anyway, by the third movie, I thought the plot had become a little tired.  Would Chucky and his murderous ways ever be stopped?  I watched others after that, I think just because I loved those first two movies so much.  What drew my macabre little mind to enjoy them so much, I do not know.  Maybe I'll have to re-watch them to figure it out.  It's been years!

If you'd like to learn more about Robert the Doll, you can check out the museum's website at There, you will find tales of how Robert's story was taught in a classroom, how he possesses an aura, and other blogs about him.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Stanley Hotel

Most people know of the Stanley Hotel as the place where Stephen King wrote The Shining.  It is a destination on the lists of many ghost hunters.  I have the privilege of saying that I've been there a couple of times.

In 1903, F.O. Stanley and his wife, Flora, were instructed by a doctor to visit Estes Park, Colorado.  The doctor suggested the mountain air would be good for F.O.'s tuberculosis, so the Stanley's headed west.  They stayed in a cabin and immediately fell in love with Estes Park.  F.O. Stanley purchased a good piece of land from the Earl of Dunraven in order to build a place he and his wife could enjoy and entertain in. In 1909, the Stanley Hotel was opened.

Many tales of otherworldly activities have been told with regards to the Stanley Hotel.  A lot of those tales are said to center around a former housekeeper for the hotel.  On June 25, 1911, an electrical storm occurred.  The lights went out, and Ms. Elizabeth Wilson was walking around, lighting lanterns to see by.  When she was at the spot where room 217 now is, there was an explosion.   Ms. Wilson was shot down from the second floor to the first floor, where the MacGregor Room now sits.  She was not killed in the accident, but she did break both ankles.  Since her death in the 1950s, people have benefited from extra housekeeping, such as beds being turned down, being tucked into bed, and having luggage unpacked.  On my trips to the hotel, I have not run into Ms. Wilson.  I can say that I have had a number of experiences though, most of which happened on the fourth floor. 

The fourth floor used to be the children's floor, so a lot of running around, playing and what-not occurred up there.  On the ghost tours, it is common for the group to sing songs, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" on the children's floor.  Sometimes ghosts will make their presences known while the song goes on.  Twice I've been on the tour when ghostly activity, in the form of cold spots, surrounded me. 

I've also had my pants leg tugged on.  When it happened, I had a sense of a child playing hide and seek.  Of course I looked down to see if my pants could have brushed up on something.  There was nothing near my leg when the experience happened. 

I have also had the privilege of going into the closet of Dunraven's room.  It was said that he used to take the nannies in there and do nefarious things with them.  While in the closet, I saw the image of a face hovering just inches in front of mine.

 I was also able to spend the night in the hotel once, as a gift from my husband.  While there, my son (then three years old) and I went to explore the hotel.  We went up to the fourth floor, and my son backed us into a corner.  He had us kneel down on the floor.  We stayed there for a number of minutes and then I asked him if we could go back to the room.  My son told me we had to stay where we were.  When asked why, his whisper to me was "The people will see us."  There was no one to be seen in the hallway with us.

Have you been to the Stanley Hotel?  Did you have any otherworldly experiences?  I'd love to hear of them!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Valentine's Day is tomorrow, but I've never really cared for the holiday.  So much pressure to have the perfect day, showing the person you love that, well that you love them.  Seems foolish to me.  Instead, I think I might take the time out of my busy schedule to reflect on the tragedy that was the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.

During the days of the Prohibition Era in the 1920s, the city of Chicago had two powerful gangs - the Italian gang to the south, and the Irish gang to the north.  The gangsters of the south were headed by Al Capone.  The gangsters to the north were led by Bugs Moran. 

On February 14, 1929, five members of the North Side gang were lured to an empty warehouse.  The plan was to kill Bugs Moran and maybe a few of his men.  However, as Moran was on his way to the meeting spot, he caught a glimpse of a police car and it scared him away.  He wasn't in the warehouse when the shooting took place.  The Irish gangsters present were lined up against a wall of the warehouse and executed.

According to a few witnesses that would testify, two of the shooters disguised themselves as police officers.  The other perpetrators dressed in what was then a business casual type of way.  There are a few different theories on who those suspects were.  The killers could have been any of the numerous other gangsters or even the police themselves.

With the majority of the material I've read on the crime, the number one suspect seems to have been Al Capone, Public Enemy #1, himself.  However, Capone was never convicted of the crime.

Who do you think did it?  If forensic science of the 1920s was what it is today, do you think the mystery could have been solved?   

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Guillotine and Reign of Terror

The French Revolution lasted from 1789 to 1799, and was a time in French history when those in power were brought down by the same people they held power over, just as all revolutions are.  It is a topic worthy of entire books and college classes.  Here, I will touch on the subtopic of the Reign of Terror, with a bigger emphasis on the guillotine.

The Reign of Terror (June 1793 - July 1794) was a period during the French Revolution when the level of violence was brought to a peak.  Also known as simply The Terror, this era is most remembered by the frivolous use of the guillotine.  A man by the name of Maximilien Robespierre was one of the most influential supporters.  During this dark time, over 41,000 people were put to death, and 16,594 of those deaths were executed with the guillotine.

The guillotine was invented in the late 18th century and named after Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.  It was considered to be a humane form of execution.  The device has a tall frame with an angled blade at the top.  The condemned would be secured to the bottom of the guillotine with their neck placed below the blade.  The weighted blade would then be dropped from above, thus removing the head with a single blow.  Before the guillotine's existence, other methods of decapitation would take more blows to finish the act.

When victims were sentenced to die by guillotine, great crowds of people would turn out for the "show."  People would fight for the best seats, and parents wouldn't hesitate to bring their children along.  Programs were sold where the names of the condemned were listed.  I haven't found any mention of it in my research, but I can imagine that vendors may have been selling food as well.  Corn dog anyone?

Eventually, so many people died by guillotine that no one bothered to show up to the festivities any more.  People turned against Robespierre and he was arrested.  Robespierre was sentenced to die by the guillotine and was executed on July 28, 1794.  

Some of the more notable names of the guillotine's victims are King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Philippe Egalite, and Madame Roland.

Do you remember studying the French Revolution or Reign of Terror in school?  What were your first thoughts?

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Four Question Interview

Here at Thumps, Bumps and Thrills, I focus on the mysterious and macabre, and steer clear of author interviews.  However, I was asked by fellow writer/friend Julia Pierce to participate in a self interview for my blog.  You can see Julia's answers here,

So here it goes....

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on an urban fantasy which deals with witches, ghosts and...VAMPIRES.

How is your story unlike other stories in your genre?

With the oversaturation of a trope like vampires, it's extremely difficult to come up with something new and completely original.  For that reason, I will not go into too much detail here on the specifics of my current Work in Progress (WIP).  But I am willing to give a few general descriptions of some things I have going on.

Instead of fire-wielding, complete fantasy types of witchcraft and magic, my books (yes, plural) focus on a more true-to-life, Pagan based belief system.  I've been finding that even though this approach is limiting in terms of what can be done in my books, it helps to keep things grounded as well.  My future readers should be less likely to stray from reading because something seems too implausible. 

I also incorporate a mixture of vampire lore, history and mythology that gives a twist on some traditional paranormal topics.  Whereas some of these things have been touched on by other authors every so often in order to further characterization, my books would fall to pieces without them.

Why do you write what you write?

I smile every time I see this question.  It is very daunting at times when I think of how hard it will be to break out with topics such as the ones I've chosen to write about.  But I've found that a writer needs to write what is in their heart and in their mind. 

I saw my first vampire movie when I was nine years old.  It wasn't the nice, bloodless paranormal romance stuff that is so prevalent today.  The Lost Boys was a hard-core vampire movie that had its characters ripping people's heads off!  From that moment on, I was completely sucked in.  Vampires never frightened me.  Instead, I was always totally fascinated by them.  I like to say that I grew up with vampires.  I hate to make myself sound like a nutcase (this is my area of geek...everyone has one), but I think about vampires all the time.  For nearly every story, song, or what-not I hear, I can think of a vampire story to reflect its moral.  When that happens to a writer, how could they not write about vampires?  It's in my blood!

What is your writing process?

It's hard to concentrate on writing during the day while chasing two very young, active children around.  It simply can't be done in my case.  So I figure I've got two options:

A) I could wake up earlier than everyone else to get my writing time in. 
B) I can stay up after everyone else has gone to sleep and let my twisted little brain work its magic.

Yes, of course I go with option B!  I've never been a morning person and never will be.  So many people told me that I would become one while I was still pregnant with my first-born child.  Boy, were they wrong!  I'm a night owl, always have been.  I love the quiet stillness (and creepiness) that is the night.  It relaxes me and helps get the creativity flowing.

So that's a little bit of information on me and my writing.  I'd be happy to answer any more questions if  you have any for me, just ask!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Do you like clowns, or do you hate them?  Do you laugh at them, or are you afraid of them?

Most of us are aware that clowns are usually part of a circus act, where grown men (or women) dress up funny and act silly to get their audience to laugh.  This has been the main purpose of the clown since the late 18th century.  However, many people (myself included) fear clowns.

Though it is not a recognized psychological disorder, the fear of clowns has been termed coulrophobia.  It is thought that with children, the skewed outfits and facial makeup of clowns are off-putting.  With adults who fear clowns, it may be more of a culturally induced phobia (characters from movies and books).

For myself, I'll never forget the time when I was a little girl (the exact age I can't remember) and I caught a glimpse of the main character, Pennywise, from the movie version of Stephen King's It.  I was so scared, I screamed and ran into another room.  The movie had me afraid to pass by sewers on the streets I walked because I though an evil clown was under the street, waiting to grab me and eat me!  It took many years until I was able to watch the movie again.  When I did, I laughed at my younger self for having been so frightened.

Another movie from my childhood that left me with a bad taste for clowns was Poltergeist.  All I ever remember is, seeing that little toy clown in the kids' bedroom with it's devilish smile and growing arms.  Again, frightening!  I still hate that scene.

More recently, my husband and I took our two kids to the circus.  I must admit, my belly was full of apprehension when I thought of having to view the nightmarish characters.  As it turned out, the clowns were extremely colorful and made my son laugh hysterically.  Just seeing the smile on his face was enough to make my childhood memories seem silly!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Persephone and Hades

From the moment I first studied Greek mythology in middle school, I fell in love with it.  So many wonderful stories and twisted, fantastical themes.  Below, I will summarize my favorite Greek myth - the story of Hades and Persephone.  Love, abduction, incest, changing seasons...what's not to love? 

But first, some background information. 

Cronus was the leader of the Titans.  With his wife, Rhea, he fathered six children (Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Hestia and Demeter).  Since Cronus was worried about being overthrown by his children, he ate the first five of them when they were born.  Rhea was able to trick Cronus when Zeus was born, and thus he lived into adulthood.  Zeus was able to force his father to regurgitate his siblings and together they killed him.  Now with no Cronus, there were three areas that needed to be ruled, the underworld, the air and the sea.  The three brothers, Hades, Zeus and Poseidon basically drew straws.  Zeus became ruler of the air, Poseidon was the ruler of the sea and Hades took the underworld.  The earth was not ruled by anyone, and all were free to be there.

Now on to Hades and Persephone.

One day, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was picking flowers in a field with her friends.  Hades caught a glimpse of Persephone and immediately fell in love with her.  So he rode into the field and abducted her.  Hades took Persephone back to his realm, the underworld.

Demeter, goddess of the harvest, became very worried because she couldn't find her daughter.  So she went in search of her and when Demeter couldn't find Persephone, she forbid the earth to grow and live.  (Yes, this would make the season of  winter).  This eternal winter of course brought cause for alarm as it had the ability to wipe out all of humanity.  After some searching, Zeus was able to find out what happened to Demeter's daughter. 

Since no one ever returned from the underworld, Zeus made an exception (the lives of men were at stake).  As long as Persephone didn't eat anything while she was with Hades, she could return to her mother.  So of course, when Hades heard of the exception, he gave Persephone a pomegranate seed to eat, making her the queen of the underworld.  Since Persephone ate the seed, Zeus decided that she could not go back to her mother for the entire year, but she could go back for a while and then return to Hades after.

So each year when Persephone returns to the earth to be with Demeter, spring is born.  The two women love and play and are so happy that summer develops.  But soon, Demeter realizes that Persephone will need to return to Hades.  So Demeter loses a little of her happiness and leaves and flowers begin to die with the coming of fall.  When Persephone must return to the underworld, Demeter again gets so depressed that winter comes until Persephone can return to the earth.

If you know me, then I'm sure you can see why this is my favorite Greek myth.  Love and death combine in this story to create a wonderful tale that is not far off from a vampire romance.  Are you familiar with Greek myths?  Mythology from another culture?  What's your favorite myth?