Spooky Space City

Gargoyle_HeadThe next time someone tells you that Houston is simply a generic urban sprawl, you can gently shake your head, smile knowingly, and pat them on the hand as you disabuse them of their misapprehensions. I have been working on the third book in the Marti Keller Mysteries series, The Devil’s Advocate, and I’ve been looking into the spooky side of the Bayou City. Some of these things I knew about, and some were news to me.

Did you know that Houston has an active vampire community? Houston Press did the legwork here, so if you or someone you know is so inclined, perhaps you can go hang out at Numbers on lower Westheimer (I used to go there in the 80s – had no idea it was still around) and you might meet a few of the city’s vampire set. Or you can just like them on Facebook.

Seems like reality TV is crawling with ghost hunting shows, but did you know that ghost hunting groups abound in Houston? Houston Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters of Houston, Paranormal Houston, West Houston Paranormal Society, Lone Star Spirits, and G.H.O.S.T. Houston are just a few of them. Can’t decide on a group? Try going to a meet up.

You can take ghost tours with Ghost Tours Texas, Houston Historical Tours, or Houston Ghost Tour. Spring, Galveston, and Kemah also have spooky tours.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Houston Bat Man? No? On June 18, 1953 witnesses in the Heights saw an approximately 6’6″ humanoid with bat-like-wings that leaped into a tree, crouched there a few minutes, then apparently flew away over the treetops at high speed. A similar creature was sighted on multiple occasions at the Johnson Space Center in 1986. But that creature running across your roof at night? It’s just a raccoon. Probably.

Remember the movie Poltergeist? It was inspired by a true story. The Black Hope Cemetery in Crosby, Texas (just a little northeast of Houston) was turned into a subdivision, but the graves were never moved. Some homeowners reported strange activity.

But there’s plenty of creepy stuff, even if you don’t believe in ghosts. You can take a crack at solving the infamous Ice Box Murders, where an elderly couple was found dismembered, pieces neatly wrapped in butcher paper, and stacked in their refrigerator. Or, maybe take a stab at The Killing Fields, where the bodies more than twenty young women were found. One killer was brought to justice, but he was only responsible for a handful of the victims. But don’t worry – you’re much more likely to be struck by lightning than be murdered by a serial killer.

Sleep tight, y’all.

Unconfidential Sources

My turn to blog! I considered writing about indie publishing. But Joe Konrath, Hugh Howey, and Passive Guy have that more than covered. Maybe a piece on getting some writing done, with kids, during summer break. But there are already at least 108 million mommy blogs (go google ‘mommy blog’ if you don’t believe me). That, and I haven’t solved that puzzle, either. I asked myself, “What is something that nobody but me can write about?”

Ideas. More specifically, how I get ideas for stories.

I read the “Weird News” sections of online news sources. I’ve even gotten ideas from reading the Homeowner’s Association newsletter.

I write down my dreams. Sometimes, I get weird scenes, scenarios, or dialog. But sometimes, I get entire stories.

I listen to podcasts, like Mysterious Universe.

I read websites, like CryptoMundo, Who Forted, Coast to Coast AM (a little heavy on the conspiracy theories, but sometimes they have gems).

I watch shows like Unusual Suspects, Homicide Hunter, and Forensic Files.

I eavesdrop on strangers in public places. Shhhh. It’s a secret.

I take pictures of odd things.

I go unusual places, and love doing “off the beaten track” activities. I would recommend the sewer tour in Paris, if you get the chance.

Put all those things in the blender, then ask “What if…”