One of the most common questions writers are asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?”
My answer: “I travel.”
Sounds simple enough. However, since I write supernatural suspense, this often means braving the world’s most haunted places. Sometimes the ghosts won’t come to you—you have to go to them.
While planning a trip to Romania for the Transylvania Horror Writer’s (sic) Retreat, I discovered the world’s most haunted forest, Hoia Baciu, was located in Cluj-Napoca. The very same city my flight would arrive and depart from.
It was clearly meant to be.
Hoia Baciu was named for a shepherd who vanished in the forest, along with his flock of 200 sheep. According to Romanian legend, neither shepherd nor sheep were ever seen again. Most locals who live near the forest are reportedly afraid to go inside, believing they will also disappear. Those courageous enough to venture within have suffered from strange rashes, headaches, burns, scratches, and nausea, among other ailments. Some experience a high level of anxiety while in the forest, along with the sensation of being watched. Electronics often malfunction in the area as well.
One of the creepiest stories about the forest involves the disappearance of a five-year-old girl. Legend has it that she reappeared several years later, wearing the same clothes she’d worn on the day she vanished. She had no memory of what had happened to her during the years she was missing.
When it comes to haunted locations and spirit sightings, I keep an open mind. Even if they exist, ghosts are hardly going to arrive on command. Hoia Baciu could be the most haunted place in the world, but that didn’t mean I was going to experience anything. Right?
The first strange thing I noticed upon arriving at Hoia Baciu seemed pretty harmless. It was a large, circular clearing filled with nothing but grass and tiny purple wildflowers. If I had to guess at its size, I’d say it was probably the size of a football field—perhaps two football fields. What was a clearing doing in the middle of a forest? Why did no trees grow here? And why was it a near-perfect circle? I wondered if this was how the UFO rumors started. My guide told me the soil had been tested many times, but no abnormalities had been found.
Once past the clearing, another odd aspect of Hoia Baciu was immediately apparent. Every single tree was deformed in some way. Some were curved downwards, into arches, while others had grown into elaborate shapes, like the famous “harp” tree. Many had large burls, or growths, on them. Even odder, one tree had a greenish mist surrounding it—a fog concentrated on a single tree. Bizarre.
Hyper aware of my surroundings, I searched for any other indication that something was “off” about the forest. If it truly was a haunted, dangerous place, the birds and reptiles weren’t bothered—Hoia Baciu rang with birdsong, and fat, green frogs were everywhere, enjoying the multitude of marshy puddles.
The reputation the forest has for being disorienting is true, my guide attested, admitting that even he occasionally gets lost. As we explored, I didn’t feel like anyone was watching me, but I did feel something else—sick. It started off as terrible stomach cramps, and worsened when a sheering pain shot through my forehead, the most sudden onset of a migraine I’d ever experienced. Embarrassed by my body’s reaction, I couldn’t tell my guide what I was feeling. I just gritted my teeth and hoped I’d survive the tour.
Finally, it was over, and I can’t remember ever being happier to leave a place in my life. As soon as I escaped the tree cover, my migraine vanished. My stomach took a bit longer to recover, but thankfully, I was back to normal in time for my overseas flight home.
Is Hoia Baciu really haunted? Based on my experience, I couldn’t say for sure, but I can tell you this—I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for a Sunday stroll.
J.H. Moncrieff’s new release, Forest of Ghosts, was inspired by her real-life experiences in Romania, including Hoia Baciu, the world’s most haunted forest.
Jackson Stone is sick of ghosts. With his love life in shambles, he heads to Romania for a horror writers’ retreat, hoping it will be a break from the supernatural and breathing space from his relationship with medium Kate Carlsson.
But as his fellow writers begin disappearing or losing their minds, he realizes he needs Kate’s help.
When Jackson loses his own memory, Kate’s love is the only thing that can bring him back. But she’s falling for the man responsible for the evil in Romania. A man who claims to be her soul mate. Will this master of wraiths forever break Kate’s bond with Jackson?
About the Author
Raised in the far north, amid Jack London’s world of dog sleds and endless winters, J.H. Moncrieff has been obsessed with psychological suspense, mysteries, and true crime for as long as she can remember. She’s endlessly fascinated by what makes people tick and has visited many of the world’s most haunted places.
J.H. loves to hear from readers. To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.
Connect with J.H.: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Today I'm handing the blog over to Tonja Drecker for her new release, Music Box, which, OMG this sounds good. I know what I'm reading soon.
“I only desire your talent...”
Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay's biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can't believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right...
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.
Grab it on
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Goodreads link : https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41452109
Early Order/Pre-order Special
Pre-order/order your book (ecopy or print) before midnight (EST) on Friday night, March 8th, send a copy of your proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org along with an US mailing address, and you will receive an envelope with exclusive swag (bookmark, sticker, etc).
The giveaway will run from midnight (EST) on the night of February 21st, 2019 until midnight (EST) on the night of March 15th, 2019. Entries will be made through the Rafflecopter. One winner will receive a music box (the one found in the book video: https://youtu.be/ww_RY4IVg3w) with the author’s golden signature on the bottom as well as swag (US addresses only). The second winner will receive an Amazon GC of $10 (US). The second winner must be in possession of a qualifying US Amazon account.
The contest is open to U.S. residents only, ages eighteen and over. No purchase is required for entry. All winners must claim their prize 48 hours after notification. Winners will be announced on www.tonjadrecker.blogspot.com on Saturday, March 16th 2019 by 10:00am (EST). All addresses and personal information will be used only for prize allocation. Sponsor, Tonja Drecker, assumes no responsibility or liability of any kind. Please email all questions to email@example.com.
About the Author
Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six.
When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.
Author website: http://tonjadrecker.blogspot.com/
Review blog: https://bookwormforkids.blogspot.com/
Hi Patricia! Thanks for hosting me today. I'd like to share an excerpt in which something goes wrong for our hero Welles. One of the improvements enjoyed by the citizens of Harmonia is that the citizens can't feel pain. So the following comes as something of a shock to him...
Welles's heart sank to somewhere below his knees. He pulled Ez in closer to his side, and Mal and the other two Fusterburians crowded around them in protection. Approaching them down the road were Hedgeson and his crew -- Welles's one-time friends. Hedgeson's sneer was so big it looked like someone was pulling at the side of his face.
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: YA dystopian Series: Black & White Series #: 2 of 3
Release date: 11th February 2019
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing
Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, theyâre setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment.
After dispatching a team of scientists to Loretania, armed with cratefuls of an antidote and vaccine and headed up by their friend, Dr George Tindleson, Welles, Ez, and Wellesâs brother Mal â who grew up in that benighted nation â start to worry when they hear nothing back, despite what they had agreed. Commandeering a fishing boat to follow the science team over the sea, they soon find that, while the disease may be on the way out, a new kind of infection has set in â the corruption they thought they had stamped out in Harmonia.
Can they get to the root of the problem and eliminate it before even more damage is done to an innocent people?
*** Warning â this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***
Meet the author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writerâs Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon.
I'm giving my blog to my fellow IWSGer, PJ Colando for her new release, The Winner's Circle.
FAITH… FAMILY… FRENZY!
When Bonnie wins the Boffo Lotto, her circle of friends urge her to lawyer up, invest, and sequester herself.
But secrets are inconceivable in small towns, so Bonnie invites her close friends to witness her Vegas wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii with endless vagabond beyond. The sky’s the limit!
The allure of travel is fun for a while—hilarious, in fact. But when the husbands are jailed on the group’s first day in Sydney, Australia, wanderlust is no longer a romp, and things get complicated when you’re halfway round the world, untethered from all you know and love.
Life has its consequences… and there’s no place like home.
With your circle of friends.
PJ Colando was born and raised in the Midwest, yet unabashedly aspired for adventure elsewhere, following her parents’ model. She lives in southern California with her family, hobbies, and pets.
PJ writes comedy and satire with a literary bent. She is the author of three previous novels, with short stories, personal essays, and articles published in journals, magazines, and anthologies.
Follow her boomer humor blog on pjcolando.com.
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