San Francisco Ghost Hunt

IMG_8157I escaped the house Thursday evening to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: take the San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour! Borderlands Bookstore organized the outing for its sponsors and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. After the week I’ve had, it was a gift to be able to get out of the house, explore the city, and learn about its history as the sun set.

The tour leaned heavily on the life of Mary Ellen Pleasant, who came to San Francisco as a free woman, bought property, funded the raid on Harper’s Ferry, rescued people out of slavery and found them jobs in San Francisco, became known as the city’s voodoo queen, and eventually lost everything. Even her home is gone now, but six of the trees she planted still line Octavia Street, where our tour began.

The ghost stories about her incorporated crows, barking dogs, and people being pelted with gum nuts from Mary Ellen’s eucalyptus trees.

IMG_8162The only house I’d been inside on the tour was the former Mansions Hotel, once owned by silver mining millionaire Richard Chambers. His niece Claudia was killed in a bedroom in the turret in what the death certificate called a farm implement accident. No word on what the farm implement was doing inside Claudia’s bedroom.

The house underwent extensive renovations and was cut into a pair of condos.  Still gracious and lovely inside, the one I visited is apparently no longer haunted, according to its owner.

We stopped outside the home of Gertrude Atherton, whose stories have unfortunately fallen out of fashion.  She palled around with Ambrose Bierce and Oscar Wilde — and her collection of stories called The Bell in the Fog is legitimately scary.  The ghost story was delicious, too.

IMG_8166The tour wrapped up at the Hotel Majestic on Sutter Street.  We didn’t go into the haunted room on the fourth floor, but in the room across the hall, the lights flickered and strange breezes wafted through.  I wish I could have stopped in the hotel’s lovely bar for a drink, but I hope to go back another time.  Apparently they serve spirits inspired by the ghost tour.

Maybe I’ll even spend the night.

The San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour goes out five nights a week, Wednesday to Sunday. You can find them on Facebook or at their homepage. Christian, the guide of our tour, has a wealth of history in his head and knows how to tell a spooky story, too.

He’s got a one-man magic show coming up next weekend: Obscura at Z Space.




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Review of Kill By Numbers

Kill By NumbersI just came across this again, right when I needed it. Family life has been complicated, lately, and I’m finding it impossible to concentrate and write. So it’s a gift to read this review right now.

“It’s tough to be a human in space. Other races look down on humans because they think of them as violent sociopaths. With the human empire disbanded, they are spread out across the galaxy trying to make a living. This brings us to former assassin Raena  who is trying to get a new start on board the alien space ship,the Veracity. Raena has a complicated past, she was a prisoner as the Templars were wiped out by a genetic plague and the situation has created some bad psychological effects.

“Raena is having nightmares of shooting her ex-lover in the head and she has to deal with the fact that the now extinct Templars have left booby-trapped biotechnology throughout the galaxy and her ship is infected. Raena and the pirate crew that she is with must learn to trust each other and figure out how to fix the booby-trapped technology or the galactic economy could collapse….

“I love good character development in a story before we get into the action and Kill By Numbers does an excellent job of it.”

Read the rest of the review on Horror Addicts.

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Bay Area Book Festival

BookFestFor the third year in a row, I’m returning to the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley to hang out at the Horror Writers Association table. I’ll be there all day tomorrow, Saturday, June 3, from 10 – 6.

The book festival is amazing, because it brings together authors, writers’ organizations, publishers, bookstores, and —  most importantly — readers.  It’s amazing to see the streets absolutely full of people who love books.

The last couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed spending the day chatting with everyone who comes by the table. It’s been great to meet local members of the HWA, too. It’s hard for me to imagine anything better than talking about books and writing all day.

If you feel the same way and you’re in the area, please come by. We don’t bite…


Last year’s crew at the Bay Area Book Festival: Roh Morgon, Sumiko Saulson, me, Oz Monroe, Jeff Seeman, and Crystal M. Romero with Carlos.

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Like a Rainbow in the Dark

18405576_10212850673009557_1669623808_oLisa Lane drops by my blog to announce a special Vampire Tour of San Francisco this coming weekend.  Lisa and I met in person for the first time at StokerCon, but we shared a table of contents in the anthology Demon Lovers back in the day.

Q: What’s red and white and wrapped in bell-bottoms?
A: Jane the Hippie Vampire after sucking a degenerate dry.

I was so honored when I received a letter from “Mina” of the Vampire Tours of San Francisco that she wanted Jane the Hippie Vampire featured in the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love tour. The tour is given year-round, with special events also available. For more information on the Vampire Tours of San Francisco, go to I’ll be attending the special Summer of Love tour, which starts at 8 pm on June 3rd, dressed in my own hippie-vampire finest.

18378691_10212850672929555_1425734790_oJane the Hippie Vampire fell victim during the Summer of Love, and has been trapped in a seventeen-year-old body ever since. Inspired during the hippie revival movement, Jane continues to seek redemption for the lives she’s taken, ever escaping her haunted past and the dark shadows she can’t seem to shake.

18378656_10212850672969556_2017625963_oI love exploring the hippie-vampire dichotomy in Jane. She’s such a kind, generous, selfless soul, and yet she finds herself capable of such savageness when she “goes red.” A true flower child, Jane just wants peace (cue the fingers), and she can’t seem to pull her head out of the Sixties. She’s watched so much change occur around her, yet she’s incapable of moving on with it all. Perhaps she sees her attire and motivations as a connection to the time when she was still innocent; by clinging to what she must know to be outdated attire — which also makes her stand out no matter where she goes — she’s clinging to the person she wishes she still was. Given what she’s seen of other vampires, she does have much to fear in the monster she could become if she were to allow it.

18339352_10212850673049558_1916010001_oIn anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Jane the Hippie Vampire is going old school. For the first time ever, Love Beads, Flashbacks, Hair, and Dazed and Confused are available individually in trade paperback.

Love Beads
Dazed and Confused

On June 3rd, Jane will be celebrating in style with the Vampire Tour of San Francisco, where there will be a hippie vampire dress-up contest, along with all sorts of fun and prizes honoring the iconic Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary. Get your tickets here:

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BayCon 2017

ITWT_Book3_NoMoreHeroes_TYPEAnother weekend, another convention! This weekend, I’m off to BayCon, the San Francisco Bay Area’s oldest fan-run science fiction convention.

This is my first time on their programming, but I have a rich, full schedule:

Friday, May 26 at 2:30 pm
Connect 5 at the San Mateo Marriott
I’m in the mood to read something from No More Heroes.

Girls Will Be Girls
Saturday, May 27 at 4 pm in Inspire 1
Why are so many YA dystopias centered on young women? What about this particular genre is so appealing to (or inclusive of) young women and what does it say about our society? I’m moderating, with Teresea Edgerton, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Linden Tarr, and Carrie Sessarego.

Saturday night, I’ll be at the Search magazine party.

Women Of Horror
Sunday, May 28 at 11:30 am in Convene 1
Women of horror talk about the stereotypes, expectations, and discrimination involved with writing in this mostly man-dominated genre. Emerian Rich of is moderating, with Loren Rhoads and Pat MacEwen.

Dystopian Space Opera from Ancillary Justice to Rogue One
Sunday, May 28 at 1 pm in Synergy 4
What is it about galactic empires that turns the future into a dystopia? We’ll discuss fiction and film and try to figure out what form of government will make everyone happy. I’m moderating, with Juliette Wade, Douglas Berry, and Andrew Clark.

Harry Potter and Dystopian Fantasy
Sunday, May 28 at 4 pm in Inspire 1
What’s a main character to do when the government (whether the Ministry of Magic or the Empire of Melnibone, the Head of the White Council or rightful King of Westeros) will use magic and lies to keep the populace in line? I’m moderating, with Jean Batt, Colin Fisk, and Linden Tarr.

The Dreaded Outline
Monday, May 29 at 10 am in Synergy 1
Technique discussion about outlining and other pre-work that helps keep writers motivated to the finish line. Tip focused rather than memoir. Moderated by Margaret McGaffey Fisk, with Loren Rhoads, Jay Hartlove, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, and J. L. Doty.

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