Archive for the Archive Category

Our Trip to Rosslyn Chapel is Old Enough to Vote

Posted in Archive on March 26, 2019 by Occult Detective

March 26, 2001

We got up early and walked through a light mist and boarded a bus that set out across the Scottish countryside. When Kim and I first made plans to travel to Scotland there was one special destination that was at the very top of our “must see” list. We were excited and passed the time chatting with our fellow passengers, especially with a young Australian college student named Sophie who was backpacking across Europe. As we rolled into the village of Roslin, I felt an electricity in the air. It was a feeling that would become amplified as we disembarked and walked up the gravel lane and laid eyes on one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture ever conceived.

Rosslyn Chapel is well known today, thanks in large part to Dan Brown’s 2003 literary phenomenon The Da Vinci Code. I understand that it has since been overrun with tourists, but when we arrived on that cold, early spring morning, it was a small handful of us that walked the hallowed grounds. In fact, Kim and I spent hours in the Chapel alone, without another soul around.


The Chapel was enveloped by a network of scaffolding as renovations were underway, but that steel cage did nothing to diminish its awesome beauty. Intricately detailed with Masonic symbols, gargoyles, green men, historic figures, and Norse gods, Rosslyn Chapel was as much art as it was a place of worship. It was the single most impressive structure I’ve ever stood in, and it was all ours… We just didn’t want to leave and we lingered about, gazing in wide wonder and poring over every delicate inch of this monument to the esoteric mystery traditions.

Interior of Rosslyn Chapel - both Master and Apprentice Pillars visible

Interior of Rosslyn Chapel – both Master and Apprentice Pillars visible

We marveled at the Apprentice Pillar, symbol of blessed Yggdrasil, and the inscription there — “Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are stronger still, but truth conquers all”.

rosslyn1We jumped the rope and descended into the lower crypt and explored the cells. We walked the graveyard and climbed the scaffolding to pore over the roof and the carvings there unseen from below. And we toured the on site Museum of Freemasonry…

It was sweet perfection.

We met up with Sophie in the village and ate a quick lunch of garlic toast and exotic cheeses before catching the bus back to Edinburgh. We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening wandering the city streets and making preparations for our next day’s journey. We ate haddock at Filthy McNasty’s and had sodas at Jenny Ha, then ate supper at the Bad Ass where I took a leap of faith.

You just can’t go to Scotland and not submit yourself to a bit of traditional cuisine. While Kim acquainted herself with the Bad Ass’ version of a chicken enchilada, I ordered the Highland Chicken and Haggis. Haggis is the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep that’s stuffed into its stomach, along with onions, suet, and spices… And it is unbelievable. I loved every bite of it. It had a very unique texture and was moist and savory. It immediately went to the top of my “last meal” requests.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.


Cabbage on the morrow

Posted in Archive on December 31, 2018 by Occult Detective


Let’s cut to the chase — The defining moment of 2018 was the death of my father near the end of July after a horrific battle with cancer. It was an exhausting ordeal, for everyone, and I’m still feeling the weight of it these many months later. My father had a lot of faults, but I loved him despite each and every one of them and I miss him, foibles and all.

There was some good, to be sure, spread out across the mantle of the past year. While my father’s passing was a grim shadow that hung over it, we still managed to find some light.

One of the highlights was seeing Connor meet one of his favorite authors, Margaret Weiss, at Gen Con. My son has been reading through all of the Dragonlance books, and recounting them, chapter by chapter, to me has been such a joy. His enthusiasm is contagious and I revel in his love for these books, much as how I did when they first hit the scene in the late 80s.


Another of the things I cherish about 2018 was our continued commitment to our health and well being. Yoga, meditation, and hiking have become such an integral part of our lives, with Kim being the driving force behind it. We eat healthy. We exercise. And we’re loving every bit of it.

We also took in several plays and concerts, and man, was that a lot of fun. To soak up a bit of culture like that, and being able to share it with Kim and Connor, was such an uplifting experience. I am so looking forward to expanding those horizons even more in 2019.

There were also a lot of things that took a backseat this past year, unfortunately.

My explorations into the paranormal were few and far between for the better part of 2018. A lot of that was due to my father’s illness, to be sure, but I also have been noticing an ongoing trend in the field, some things that I have complained about for years, that are becoming more and more prevalent. I hope to work toward changing some of that as the new year rolls out.


I didn’t get much writing done this year either, but I did manage to see a novella published — Hallowe’en House, co-written with my friend Greg Mitchell; and there was the introduction I wrote for a kickstarter project that reprinted the earliest tales of Kull written by my favorite author, Robert E. Howard.

Along with writing less, I also read less this year. Our Water Street Book Club petered out after two books (Sleeping Beauties was a real slog) and I managed only about 60 titles for the year, many of which were review copies that came my way. That will be one my New Year’s Resolutions, to see the Book Club revitalized and to get more reading (and writing) in over the course of 2019.

rpgAnother high point of 2018 was seeing the Oak Hill RPG Club grow. We picked up new members and played twice weekly for the better part of it. While we lost steam on developing our own RPG (due to various copyright issues), we really have seen gaming become more firmly entrenched into our regimen.

So, we say fare thee well to 2018. I’ve a fair number of resolutions for the new year, not the least of which is to be more mindful of content for this blog. I hope to have some exciting announcements in the coming months and hope you’ll stay tuned to hear them.

Till then, I wish each and every one of you all the best and may 2019 find you at peace.

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

Tonight, join me for “Haunted History” in the Historic Odd-Fellows Building

Posted in Archive, Magick on October 20, 2018 by Occult Detective


While the Converse Historical Society treats guests to pumpkin decorating, cider & canvas illustrating, the showcasing of the artifacts they’ve gathered, and a viewing of vintage ‘home movies’ from Converse’s past, I will be offering hourly tours of the upper floors of the former Odd-Fellows Lodge.

This is a rare peek into the spectacular ruin of the third floor, and while I cannot guarantee that you will ‘experience’ a ghostly encounter, I can assure you, it certainly can happen.

There is the potential for this tour to become very intense and frightening. The EWCC & CHS shall not be held responsible for guests who are unable to continue due to the affects of this site.  If it becomes too much for guests, they will be escorted downstairs as safely and quickly as possible.

For your protection as well as mine, I must insist that guests remain together in a group and in close proximity to me AT ALL TIMES.

Out of respect for the site and our hosts, the Eastern Woodland Carvers Club, please DO NOT touch any carvings on display. Please treat the building and its contents with respect.

I urge parents to use their own good judgment regarding children. While the stories told are ‘family-friendly’, the experience has the potential to be unsettling. As for seniors or others with mobility or health issues, I would recommend you not take the tour due to the extensive stair climbing. Again, use your best judgement.

As I stated earlier, there is no guarantee of actually seeing (or feeling) a ghost or spirit in human form, but you should prepare yourselves for the possibility.

Now, who wants to learn a little history and have a bit of a thrill tempting the preternatural forces that reside in this historic building?

My thoughts on @WeiserBooks’ Storytelling Alchemy by Renée Damoiselle

Posted in Archive, Magick, Writing on October 9, 2018 by Occult Detective

storytellingalchemyWell, this one surprised me.

I received an unexpected review copy from Red Wheel/Weiser titled Storytelling Alchemy: Write Your Own Happy Ending by Renée Damoiselle.

Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly a self-help book kind of guy, but I am a storyteller and so had no real qualms about dipping my toes into this one.

Man, am I glad I did.

What I discovered was an insightful exercise, not only in creative writing, but of transformation in both a spiritual and magical nature. Storytelling Alchemy presents a system that empowers the reader to control the narrative of their life and offers the tools necessary for unlocking creativity and imagination.

By building a personal mythos, we place ourselves in the center of the action. We drive the narrative. It is our story. Through that connection, I believe we have a deeper understanding of the people around us, realizing they too are on an adventure.

Storytelling Alchemy is a book about self-discovery and invention. I recommend it highly.

Storytelling Alchemy: Write Your Own Happy Ending by Renée Damoiselle is available in bookstores, worldwide, or you can order a copy today from your favorite online bookseller.



Posted in Archive, Magick on August 1, 2018 by Occult Detective

I’ve had a song running through my head the past couple of days. To be honest, it’s usually a soft parade of Led Zeppelin up there, but the earworm that’s caught me is a variant on that theme, more feminized, but no less majestic in its grandeur. The song in question?

I’ve had a lot on my mind the past month or more, especially in the last two weeks. My father’s long illness, that culminated in his passing from this world to the next in the last minutes of Friday, July 20th, has introduced a new thread of introspection.

I am no stranger to loss. I’ve said farewell to family and too many friends. But this was a bit different than those that came before, because when I stared down at my father, when I held his hand, it was me that I saw there, or rather a future shadow of me.

There were moments when I saw myself mirrored there and it made me pause in each instance. I am reminded of that famous Irish epitaph —

Remember Man as you go by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so shall you be,
Prepare yourself to follow me

So here we are then, with Lùnastal upon us. That which has been sown, it is now time to reap. We’ll be saying our public farewell to my father tomorrow and with it my disquiet will be lifted. It will be time to return to the business at hand.

I’ve been tinkering with a number of things, but it feels time to see some things finished, to be taken to their end and cast like runes upon the wind.

Magic, like the soul, is eternal, but life is a fleeting thing. On Yeats grave, it reads —

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death
Horseman Pass by!

There is magic adrift, enveloping the living and the dead alike. Entwined, it is, this mystic rapture, with all that was, is, and will be. Something wondrous is on the horizon, beyond space and time itself. Magic abounds. While there is still breath to be drawn, live. Embrace your True Will and be that what you were meant to be, free and unfettered. Love and be loved. Live, and let live.

Godspeed, Dad

Posted in Archive on July 23, 2018 by Occult Detective


One of my fondest memories, sifting through the dusty files that occupy my cranial attic, is of my dad coming home from work on second shift, pulling me out of bed, and sitting me on his lap to watch Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. I was maybe 4 or 5. By the time the windmill was on fire, I was cowering behind his chair, eyes glued on the screen, unsure if I should feel sympathy for the monster or cheer at its destruction..

My dad passed away in the final minutes of Friday, the 20th of July, after a long battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.

When we lose loved ones, we tend to oversell them, attaching adjectives like “great” and “special” to them, by ascribing qualities to them that often times simply don’t reflect the person they really were, but some ideal that you want to project out into the world.

My father was far from perfect, but I loved him dearly. He was hard-headed, opinionated, and a know-it-all. And dang it, that was part of his charm. He was an over-grown kid in all the best ways. He was a jovial guy, always quick with a quip or a joke, and ones that were more often than not completely inappropriate. Dad didn’t have a “political correct” bone in his body.

His favorite president was Richard Nixon.

Dad instilled in me a love for horror and science fiction movies. He bought me comic books and UFO magazines. He taught me how to ride a horse, shoot a gun and bow, how to build a fire, set up a tent, and sharpen a knife. He told me my first ghost stories. He taught me how to swing a bat, get into a three point stance, throw a shot put, and ride a bike.

He loved my mom more than anything in the world.

We went on lots of trips, often with a gaggle of my older cousins in tow: Santa Claus Land, King’s Island, Cedar Point, Disney World, Mackinaw Island, the Piatt Castles, Merrimack Caverns, and State Parks all over Indiana. And lots of trips to Arkansas.

How do you write about a man that was such a huge influence on your life, for so long? How do you capture it all?

You can’t. It’s a surreal flood of memories all slamming into one another. Riding around town with him on his golf cart, buying him cigarettes at the local grocery, hunting deer with him “Indian-style” and getting attacked by a wild turkey, him teaching me how to drive a stick in Wabash, learning how to swim by him throwing me out into deep water, watching Blue Bloods while holding his hand.

There’s an old saying that you don’t become a man until the death of your father.

I don’t think I was ready to become a man quite yet.


Robert E Howard

Posted in Archive on June 11, 2018 by Occult Detective

Bordermen Games

“All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over and the lamps expire.”

Robert E Howard passed away 82 years ago today on June 11, 1936. He has been my inspiration for more than 40 years. He built living, breathing worlds with his words. He was more than just a master of action & adventure. He imbued every story with atmosphere & presence.


The enduring legacy of Howard’s characters are a testament to the wondrous talent he possessed — Conan of Cimmeria, Solomon Kane, Kull of Atlantis, Dark Agnes de Chastillon, and so many more.

For having only lived 30 years, only twelve of those as a professional author, his literary output was nothing short of prolific. He, arguably, created the sword and sorcery genre, made brilliant contributions to Lovecraft’s Mythos, and churned out an incredible array of heroic fiction in an even more incredible…

View original post 56 more words

My interview with Depths of Night author Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Archive with tags , on May 23, 2018 by Occult Detective

I had a chance to chat with my friend, author Stephen Zimmer, about writing, inspiration, and his latest release, the novella Depths of Night. You can read my review of the book here.

For me, the one place I would love to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil is Robert E. Howard’s house in Cross Plains. Tell me, have you ever undertaken a literary pilgrimage?

Though I have traveled quite a bit over the years, I have not been able to make too many trips that I could deem as literary pilgrimages, with the exception of a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland that I made a few years back in the company of my mother and sister.   Many of the sites and lands I had studied when writing the first few titles of my epic fantasy Fires in Eden series were finally able to be experienced in person.  Seeing those places carried with it a surreal feeling.

I soaked up everything that I possibly could, to the point I made a bus of folks wait so I could walk around the base of one of my favorite castles of all time, located in Wales,Caernarfon.   Going to the Viking museum in York, and the Viking section of the history museum in Dublin, Ireland, seeing the Book of Kells, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the White Tower in London.

I could go on and on about individual highlights,but suffice it to say that it put added depth and a deeper appreciation to everything that I had studied from afar.  It was a very profound personal experience that I will never forget.

DepthsofNight_CoverArt_1200X800I think your travels are reflected in your writing. It’s obvious that worldbuilding is very important to you. In that sense, do you see each book as its own thing, or are those connections intricate to the narrative you’re creating?

In regard to the releases like Depths of Night, these novellas are intended to be stand-alone tales that build a body of work centering around the Ragnar Stormbringer character.  Some of the tales will have expansions on things referenced in others (and in future novel sets that I have in mind), but any reader can enjoy them in any order that they would like.  Eventually, I would love to see the body of work collectively tell the Ragnar Stormbringer story, in the same way that I’m building a body of work for Rayden Valkyrie.

As each of us gets a wee bit longer in the truth, a certain amount of wisdom comes with that. Are there any hard earned lessons you wish you could have imparted to your younger self?

Run … run fast, and take the broadcasting job out of college, haha!  OR, stock up on bourbon, lots of it, and take the path that I chose to take!  In all seriousness, I would definitely tell my younger self to gird for the long haul and be prepared for the seismic changes in the industry that have made it very challenging for writers to raise awareness of their work today.  It can be very frustrating at times to consider the amount of work that is put into being a writer (all aspects, including marketing/PR tasks and everything else beyond writing itself) in relation to the often painstaking progress made on one’s career path.

Some friends and I, all fellow writers, were chewing on this one the other day — what was the best money you ever spent as a writer? For me, it goes all the way back to my first word processor. What do you think?

The best money I ever spent was setting up a separate office space from where I do my writing.  Having a dedicated writing space has been invaluable to me over the years.  It has kept a host of possible distractions away from my writing sessions and has also been of great benefit in keeping me in the right mindset, or zone, when creating written works.  Sometimes I joke that I have developed my own Pavlovian response, in that when I sit down in my writing space, my brain kicks into writing mode immediately!

Whenever you ask someone what their favorite novel is, you tend to see certain books turn up over and over again, is there a book you love that you feel is maybe under-appreciated?

legendI would have to say David Gemmell’s Legend.  I think it is a heroic fantasy masterpiece that has not gotten near the recognition that it deserves.  It features a great hero at a more vulnerable stage of his life, a fantastic supporting cast, and a great “against all odds” kind of plotline.  Beyond the action, twists, and turns, there is a big heart behind it all, and the glimpses of life’s bigger picture shine through in a way that few authors are able to do.  Gemmell walks this fine line in a brilliant way and I truly would love to see this novel adapted to the big screen to gain more awareness for Gemmell’s work.

Aleister Crowley famously said, “To me a book is a message from the gods to mankind; or, if not, should never be published at all….” I have always viewed writing as a very spiritual exercise? Do you feel the same?

I definitely do.  Writing to me is an active engagement in subcreation and envisioning different possible realities.  It can also be, if you let it, be a deeply meditative and self-reflective kind of practice.  I do allow myself to immerse into those kinds of things, to the point that I feel renewed and often reinvigorated when I walk out of the room after a writing session.

Writing allows me to constantly examine and think the flaws, virtues, values, and attributes of various characters, which can be used to gain further understanding of morality.  Being a speculative fiction writer, I am also able to explore themes regarding the spirit and spiritual realms, in an abundance of forms.

Writing offers a wonderful avenue for spiritual practice, if you let it.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoI have a particular fondness for Easter Eggs and liberally sprinkle them throughout my stories. Does your fiction have any tucked away fro devoted fans to ferret out?

They end up being there whether I intend for them or not, I believe.  There have been several times when those who know me well, who have read my work, will comment on a certain character’s outlook and values, their actions, or other elements that have a connection with something powerful in my own life.

Consciously, I do enjoy leaving some subtle things here and there for the keen-eyed reader, especially those who have read all of my work in a given series or franchise.

Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. It was a pleasure to get a chance to touch base with you. And for those of you who joined us, be sure to check out my review of Stephen’s Ragnar Stormbringer tale, Depths of Night, for sale now wherever ebooks are sold.

Someday… #RobertEHoward

Posted in Archive with tags on May 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

howard days

Unless I happen to win the lottery in the next couple of weeks this will be yet another year I won’t be attending Howard Days in Cross Plains.

I keep telling myself that I’ll make it “someday”, but we all know that someday never comes. So I’m making myself this promise, if not before, then I will attend Solomon Kane’s 100th Birthday Event. That will be 2028. I’ll be 62. Absolutely. But I’m hoping for before…

May the 4th Be With You…Always

Posted in Archive on May 4, 2018 by Occult Detective

Star Wars is not what it once was, at least for me. There was a time when it was everything to me. Like most pre-teen kids in the late 70s, I was well and truly obsessed.


Turn back the clock forty years  and Star Wars was almost a year old. Marvel was knee deep into the comics and really hitting their stride. That run of issues throughout 1978 was a real highlight for me and now, in the order of my ranking all-things Star Wars, it is those comics that come in second only to the first film.

1978 also was the beginning salvo of Kenner toys.While I really waish MEGO would have gotten the license, my love and affection for those toys was boundless. Unfortunately they came just I was nearing the age when I would be too cool to play with them, but there was a brief window there when they were the subject of countless hours of fun for me and my kid brother.


And then, there was the Holiday Special.

The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on November 17, 1978 and, somewhat blissfully for me, tv reception on CBS that night was abysmal. We lived in the country and received our television via a thirty foot tv antennae with a rotor attached. Often times tv reception was pretty bad and this night, at least as far as CBS was concerned, was about as bad as it got. But my little brother and I still watched. Even through the crackle and snow and rolling picture, I could tell this show was a disaster. Its one saving grace was the introduction of Boba Fett.


The animated segment, during which was the clearest the tv got that night, thankfully, was pretty solid. While I didn’t love the animation style (it’s grown on me through subsequent viewings) it did feel like a continuation of the movie universe and was akin to the comics I was reading.

The rest of the program was ridiculous. I don’t know what CBS was thinking. I can only hope that Lucas was paid well for allowing his characters to be so soundly abused.

Star Wars turns 41 this year. It’s been a bumpy ride. Like I said at the beginning, Star Wars as a whole doesn’t mean the same to me as it once did, but I have never lost the sense of wonder and excitement that I felt when the opening scrawl debuted back in 1977.

No matter where the franchise goes, the Star Wars of my childhood remains firmly entrenched in my mind, untouched and unsullied…



%d bloggers like this: