Tips for Marketing and Promoting your Ebooks


EB1 2.0

I’ve been self-published through Amazon KDP for a few years now and been fortunate to have sold thousands of my ebooks, so people sometimes ask me how to go about marketing their own work. Thanks to my Eerie Britain books, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way so here are a few tips.

1 – Get Blog Reviews

Look for blogs that review ebooks appropriate to your genre and email them asking if they’d like a free copy for review. “Hi, I’ve been really enjoying your blog recently and got to wondering if you’d be interested in reviewing a copy of my recent ebook.” Not all will, and many might not even reply but some of them do and can become strong contacts for future collaborations. I’ve managed this three times (out of only about five goes). TOP TIP: the younger bloggers seem keener and often have very wide audiences.

2 – Wikipedia

If you already have a Wikipedia page then make sure you add your ebook projects for a bit of extra exposure. Anyone can edit Wikipedia and it sits high on the search engine returns.

3 – Good Reads

Get intimate with Good Reads—create an author profile and explore what you can do with the site. Many readers love the fact that authors are on there and want to communicate with you.

4 – Facebook

The same goes for Facebook: use it to create a page or community for (or related to) your product. I’ve had sales from doing just such a thing via my Eerie Britain Facebook community: some readers I’d been chatting to actually bought my paperback even though they’d already bought my ebooks, the lovely people. Be prepared to post good content regularly to keep people around.

5 – Sites to Familiarise Yourself With

I think they are all based in the US (I’m in the UK), but that might not affect you as much as it does me (as I have Britain in my title).

  1. Ereader News Today: http://www.ereadernewstoday.com/
  2. Kindle Nation: http://kindlenationdaily.com/
  3. Pixel of Ink: http://www.pixelofink.com
  4. Inspired Reads: http://www.inspiredreads.com
  5. Kindle Reader: http://kindlereader.blogspot.com/
  6. GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com
  7. IndieReader: http://indiereader.com/author-promotional-opportunities/

6 – Get a blog going.

I bet you’ve started one somewhere but perhaps it’s now gathering dust. You don’t have to post thousands of words every day, but regular content builds the hits—this is the long game so think in terms of years. This blog is in its fourth year now and has totalled 75,000 hits so far with virtually no self-promotion of it. It’s been fun to build and gets more popular with each year on its own. Occasionally you’ll hit pay dirt, too: one of my off-the-cuff paranormal articles is the fifth return on the Google keyword search for it—and climbing. It did that on its own.

7 – Give away the first chapters of your ebooks on your blog.

The first chapter should be something of a hook anyway, so it’s a perfect thing to draw in potential readers—don’t forget the links to where your books are on sale.

8 – Guest blog.

Find blogs and websites that you like (doesn’t have to be about fiction) and offer guest articles to them for free. Just ask that your sign-off mentions your work. This is a great way for someone to get your links onto really busy websites. Besides the marketing advantages, the best thing about guest-blogging is that it can be fun as you can write whatever your heart desires as long as it’s appropriate to the blog. (If anyone would like to guest-blog here, you’re most welcome.)

9 – The Most Important Bit

If you want to properly market your ebooks, you need to get your head around it taking up a LARGE chunk of your work time. If you are, like I am at the moment (due to work and life circumstances), unwilling to dedicate that much to time to this facet of modern writing then you simply won’t get as popular as you might have been otherwise.

Have I missed anything?

For more information please check out my ebooks.

Posted in Amazon KDP, Blogging, Books, Ebooks, Marketing, Self-Publishing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost Child Appears in Liverpool Orphanage Window

This is currently one of The Mirror’s most popular stories – probably due to it being published on Friday the 13th. I’ve seen a lot of supposed ghost photographs and, honestly, this is one of the worst. I can’t even make out the form. The photograph is from Google’s Street View library and shows the old Liverpool Seamen’s Orphan Institution building, a Grade II listed building that was more recently a hospital. It is now derelict and, of course, has attached to it many ghost stories with reports of shadow figures and a ghost child.

New Bitmap Image

“A concerned local raised the alarm, believing the image shows a child crying in the window of the red-bricked building.”

I think they’re grasping at straws.

  1. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/liverpool-ghost-face-spooky-child-5160304
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsham_Park_Hospital#Hauntings

For more research into real-life cases please check out my ebooks.

Posted in Bizarre, Legends, Paranormal, Strange Places | Tagged | Leave a comment

The SS Ourang Medan: Death Ship (Updated)

Ghost_Ship_20

The Strait of Malacca has long borne the passage of trading ships. Over the centuries, most of these merchantmen reached their destinations safely, however, one day in the summer of 1947 (or 1948) a forbidding SOS message drifted across the Strait’s airwaves: “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” This was followed by some indecipherable Morse Code chatter, probably more SOS signals, and then one final grisly message: “I die.”

The macabre distress call was picked up by other ships and international listening posts. Through triangulation, they identified the vessel as the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan and plotted its approximate position to within the Strait of Malacca. Of the two US merchant ships that heard the Ourang Medan’s grim message, Silver Star was the nearest and she raced to the aid of the stricken vessel.

Within a few hours, Silver Star arrived upon a hushed sight. The calm sea gently lapped at the Ourang Medan’s stationary hull and the crew was nowhere to be seen above decks. The American ship hailed the Dutch ship with whistles, calls and hand signals but there was no response. Nothing on board the eerie craft moved. A boarding party was quickly assembled, what they would discover would prove such an alarming sight that it has made the Ourang Medan into one of the strangest nautical mysteries of all time—eclipsing even the Marie Celeste in macabre detail (if not in infamy). (I’m fairly sure that Ourang Medan translates into English as ‘Man of Medan’—Medan being a city in Indonesia.)

pmmc front j

As Silver Star’s boarders discovered, the SOS message proved correct: every member of the ship’s crew lay dead. The crew’s corpses lay scattered in various places below deck. The captain was dead on the bridge and his officers in the wheelhouse, chartroom and wardroom were all dead too. More than this, all the corpses still had their eyes open and faces upturned, some with outstretched arms and expressions of sheer terror etched upon their features. As a May 1952 article in the rather official Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council put it: “there were dead men everywhere […] the frozen faces upturned to the sun with mouths gaping open and eyes staring, the dead bodies resembled horrible caricatures.” Silver Star’s boarding party noted that even the ship’s dog was dead, its face locked in a grimace that mirrored that of its masters. A trip to the communications room revealed the author of the SOS messages, also dead, his hand still on the Morse sending key, his eyes wide open and teeth bared. There was no sign of wounds or injuries on any of the bodies. The boarding party, according to one source, felt intense cold when on the lower decks.

The decision was made to tow the mysterious ship back to port but, before they could get under way, smoke began emanating from somewhere below deck (probably the number four hold). The boarding party hurriedly returned to Silver Star and barely had time to cut the lines and get to a safe distance before the baffling ship exploded with such force that she “lifted herself from the water and swiftly sank.” That’s the story, anyway.

Theories and Digging Deeper

So, what really happened to the SS Ourang Medan?

Speculators have said that pirates killed the crew and sabotaged the ship, although this doesn’t explain the peculiar grimaces and lack of obvious wounds on the corpses. Others have claimed that clouds of methane or other noxious natural gases could have bubbled up from fissures on the sea bed and engulfed the ship, poisoning all on board. Carbon monoxide could have leaked from the engine room, killing the crew, say others. Even more fantastical theories involving aliens and ghosts abound, with the strange manner of the sailors’ deaths pushing researchers into thinking supernatural foul play was the only explanation. Sadly, first-hand evidence of any aspects of the story is elusive.

Over the decades, several marine historians have sought to uncover the truth about the ship’s puzzling fate. Among these, Roy Bainton’s research stands out. He writes:

“Searching the Dutch shipping records in Amsterdam seemed only to deepen the mystery. There was no mention of the ship at all, and my enquiries to the maritime authorities in Singapore drew a blank.

“I was facing the distinct possibility that this was simply a hoary old fo’c’sle yarn… until Professor Theodor Siersdorfer of Essen, Germany entered the frame. He had read the plea [I placed] in Sea Breezes [a British magazine for old sailors] and I suddenly discovered that I was not alone; Siersdorfer had been on the case for 45 years.”

It seems that Siersdorfer furthered Bainton’s progress, providing the name of the Silver Star, amongst other things.

Bainton goes on to hypothesise that it was deadly gas, leaking from the cargo hold, that caused the crew’s demise. The development of such gasses was outlawed under the Geneva Convention and so perhaps shadowy governmental forces erased the Ourang Medan from the shipping registers—a cover up!

“What follows is pure speculation, but there is a tantalising, possible explanation as to her crew’s demise and her disappearance from the records. A fellow researcher, Otto Mielke mentions a mixed, lethal cargo on the Ourang Medan ‘Zyankali’ (potassium cyanide) and nitro-glycerine. How this mixture could have gone unrecorded is a mystery, as the controls on such lethal cargoes, even 50 years ago, would have ensured reams of paperwork.”

(Otto Mielke wrote about the case in his thirty-two page 1954 booklet called Das Totenschiff in der Südsee (The Deathship in the South Seas)—I haven’t been able to find an English translation.)

There’s a problem with the steamer, Silver Star. It did exist, but not quite as most articles tell us. It was actually named Silver Star Park, and seemed to be Canadian in origin. By the time of its supposed encounter with the Ourang Medan, it was more likely to be plying its trade in Brazilian waters and had been renamed the SS Santa Cecilia (becoming SS Ilha Grande in 1949). Here’s its entry in Lloyd’s Shipping Register:

ssp j

(There are two other possible candidates for our Silver Star, but, like this one, none of those are recorded as being anywhere near where the Ourang Medan was encountered.)

The Silver Star Park

The Silver Star Park

As for the Zyankali gas theory: Unit 731 was a secret research and development department within the Imperial Japanese Army that was dedicated to biological and chemical warfare. They used human beings in their experiments during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War Two and thus were responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel. Unit 731’s research methods were unremittingly appalling, including vivisections carried on living children—without anaesthetic. After the war ended, the US secretly granted immunity to the head of Unit 731 and its physicians in exchange for exclusive access to their findings so, revoltingly, their abhorrent crimes went almost entirely unpunished. Shiro Ishii, the department’s head moved to Maryland to work on bio-weapons research. Roy Bainton continues:

“So how was this deadly cargo moved around the South China Sea and through the Straits of Malacca during this troubled period? Not by air; the prospect of a cargo plane crashing with several tons of deadly gas on board was too horrendous to consider. No, you hired an insignificant old tramp steamer, preferably with a low paid foreign crew, stowed the cargo in disguised oil drums and, like all serious smugglers, hoped for the best, and a blind eye from authority. If we accept, due to the nature of her crew’s deaths, that she was carrying deadly gas or chemicals and if indeed she was a Dutch vessel had this news broken it would have been a major embarrassment for any government involved, especially in the light of the Geneva Convention. Hence the dead ends faced by any researcher. The story exists because, like the gases, it escaped.”

De Loco pic j

The first recording that I can find of this story seems to come from three 1948 articles printed in the Dutch newspaper De Locomotief: Samarangsch handels- en advertentie-blad (The Locomotive: Advertisement and Trade Paper). They seem to support the escaping lethal gas theory.

From the Wikipedia entry regarding them:

“The second and third article describe the experiences of the sole survivor of the Ourang Medan crew, who was found by a missionary and natives on Toangi (sic) atoll in the Marshall islands. The man, before perishing, tells the missionary that the ship was carrying a badly stowed cargo of sulphuric acid, and that most of the crew perished because of the poisonous fumes escaping from broken containers. According to the story, the Ourang Medan was sailing from an unnamed small Chinese port to Costa Rica, and deliberately avoiding the authorities.”

The paper insists that it knows nothing more about the case than what has been printed, and that it all came from an Italian man named Silvio Scherli, although my Dutch is pretty verschrikkelijk. If you want to read the original text I’ve found it online: link.

de loco article j

The article does include a tantalising photograph and the caption seems to insist it is of the Ourang Medan. If that’s true (it surely isn’t) it’s almost certainly the only photograph in existence of the doomed ship. The caption translates roughly as: “The burned wreck of Ourang Medan shortly before it sank to the bottom of the ocean, with its secrets.”

So who was Silvio Scherli? Details are scant, but it seems that he was told the account while living in Triest by a missionary. This missionary in turn heard it from the last surviving member of the Ourang Medan’s crew—a German—who had related the end of his ship just before expiring. He said an “unregistered cargo” had leaked chemical fumes and overcome the crew. His lifeboat had made it to “Toangi Island in the Marshalls”. Six others were in the boat, but the German was the only one left alive. He was taken to hospital but died soon after.

Toangi Island is also called Bokak Atoll and, while I can find reference to the presence of Catholic missionaries in the Marshall Islands in 1942 within a research paper concerning drift patterns from the Smithsonian Institution, I can’t find their actual mission.

Conclusion

The peculiar thing about the Ourang Medan case is that, on one side, you have a distinct lack of records: nothing in Lloyd’s Register, nothing in the Dictionary of Disasters at Sea 1824-1962, and probably no Silver Star that sailed the Strait of Malacca. Yet on the other hand we have the story retold in the US Coast Guard’s Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council—a queer place to be writing made-up fantasies. Who knows, possibly the ship’s name was spelled incorrectly, possibly it was purposefully erased from record, maybe it was a false name that it sailed under in the first place due to nefarious goings-on.

pmmc text jpg

The US Coast Guard’s Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council

As with many of these mysteries, it is unlikely that the truth will ever be uncovered. In some ways, though, it doesn’t really matter whether the whole thing is a good old yarn or not as the fascinating and gruesome nature of the tale serves its own purpose.

Perhaps it’s fitting to give the last word to the man who has plumbed the Ourang Medan’s depths more than any other man: Roy Bainton.

“I first heard this story as an Ordinary Seaman in the mess room on board an old tramp ship, the MV Port Halifax, whilst crossing the Pacific between Panama and Australia in 1960. Since then I’ve probably carried out more research into this frustrating yarn than anyone else, and I notice that whenever you Google the ship, my name comes up. But although I want to believe it all, (that’s the romantic side of being a writer) the more I dig the more phoney the whole thing begins to look, and I am amazed at the loose, sloppy re-interpretations of my research, tailored to please the credulous hordes who will allow no scepticism to spoil their Halloween spirit.”

So, there you go.

My Sources

Want more maritime weirdness? Try The SS Watertown’s Floating Faces.

For more research into real-life cases please check out my ebooks.

Posted in Bizarre, Debunked?, Hoax?, Maritime, Paranormal, Urban Myth?, Writing | 4 Comments

Death and Mystery at the Winchester Mansion

Winchester_Mystery_House_San_Jose_01

Madness, séances, death, ghosts, guns, strange symbolism, architecture directed by terror—Sarah Winchester’s San Jose home ticks a Hell of a lot of bizarre boxes. Even if you aren’t interested in the paranormal, the house is such an intriguing and unique place that, hopefully, this post will be worth a read. So, if you’re sitting uncomfortably, we will begin.

The legendary Winchester Mystery House sprawls over a four-and-a-half acre site at 525 South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose, California. Once the residence of Sarah Winchester (the widow of firearms magnate William Wirt Winchester) the house stands today as a reminder of the power of paranoia and fear. Its busy-but-orderly exterior only hints at the chaotic interior that awaits the visitor who, upon entering, would encounter twisting hallways, uncountable rooms, staircases the go nowhere and doors that open unto drops—and that stuff’s just the beginning.

You see, the spirits of those unfortunate enough to have been killed by the renowned Winchester Rifle—‘the gun that won the west’—are said to wander the maze-like passageways seeking retribution.

Sarah Winchester

Sarah Winchester

In 1866 Sarah lost her newborn baby to marasmus—an event from which she would never truly recovered. The emotional trauma lingered and was compounded fifteen years later when William died of tuberculosis. Sarah grieved so deeply that, like many in the Victorian era, she was drawn to Spiritualism and attempted to contact them through a medium. Of course, the medium did make contact and the message that came through terrified her:

“[William] says for me to tell you that there is a curse on your family; a curse which took the life of both himself and your child. It will soon take you too. It is a curse that has resulted from the terrible weapon created by the Winchester family. Thousands of victims have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking vengeance.” Shocked, Sarah asked if there was a way to break the curse. “You must start a new life,” replied the medium, “and build a home for yourself and the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon too. You can never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live. The moment you stop is the moment you will join the spirits in death.”

Sarah’s vast fortune meant she had the pick of San Jose’s artisans and craftsmen. New constructions soon engulfed the original house, with section after section being demolished, rebuilt and remodelled. A small army was employed to work around the clock all year round. There was no interruption to the work and no architectural plans were drawn up in advance. Instead, Sarah would retreat to a special room and conduct séances during which ‘voices from beyond the grave’ would instruct her upon the building work to be undertaken the next day.

Construction continued without pause for thirty-eight years.

By 1906, the house had become a seven storeys-tall mansion, including forty bedrooms, two basements, ballrooms and indoor toilets. There were 250 doors, forty-seven fireplaces, six kitchens , assorted lifts, and a staircase that had forty-four steps and seven complete turns. Seventeen chimneys further punctuated the house’s already jumbled skyline.

Winchester_Mystery_House_(door_to_nowhere)

The house was also intentionally built with elements that were designed to befuddle any guest—whether living or dead. Trap doors and skylights inhabit strange places and some of the floors are deliberately slanted. Staircases lead nowhere, cupboards and doors open onto blank walls or worse—sheer drops. The séance room too was not immune to the unusual layout, having just one entrance and yet three exits. Amongst all this, upside-down balusters and unusable chimneys dot the interior. In fact, so convoluted was the floor plan that an accurate count of the rooms proved impossible and it was not uncommon for workers to become lost.

450px-Winchester_Mystery_House_(5570163978)

A stairway to nowhere.

There are also thought to be a few secret passageways (one is known) in the house, but they are yet to be discovered.

Official photo gallery here.

There are also two recurring themes within the house. Firstly, the number thirteen appears in many places: chandeliers have thirteen candle holders, there are rows of thirteen coat hooks, some sinks have thirteen plug holes, walls and ceilings are sometimes made up of thirteen panels and staircases have thirteen steps. Secondly, spider’s web designs feature too: amongst other things, there are Tiffany glass stained glass windows with web motifs that were designed by Sarah Winchester herself, and normal windows leaded in web patterns.

On the 5th of September, 1922, after some time in the séance room, Sarah retired for the night and died in her sleep. Due to its bizarre nature, the house was deemed worthless at first. Rumour maintained, however, that a large safe was hidden in the house which contained a vast hoard of jewellery including a solid-gold dinner service which Sarah was thought to have used to entertain her spectral guests. Her relatives forced open a number of safes but found nothing of any monetary value. One safe had another safe within it, and a further safe within that which contained nothing but a lock of her baby daughter’s hair. Soon after Sarah’s demise, the house was sold at auction to investors for $135,000—despite her having spent something like $70,000,000 on it.

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The Ghosts

But is it really haunted? Aptly for a house that enjoys such a uniquely macabre raisin d’être, there have been a large variety of possibly paranormal events reported over the years. Here’s a mere taste:

  • The echo of spectral footsteps on wooden floors.
  • Exploding balls of red light.
  • Disembodied voices.
  • Doors that open and close of their own accord.
  • Windows that slam shut with such force that they shatter.
  • A mystery piano player (said to be Sarah herself) can sometimes be heard tickling the ivories late into the night.
  • The sudden aroma of chicken soup has been smelled coming from long defunct kitchens.
  • Even doorknobs have been seen turning by themselves.

One employee was, for a time, the focus of a variety of unexplained activities. While closing up the mansion alone one evening, he locked the courtyard’s heavy doors and momentarily turned to set the burglar alarm. Turning back, he found that the doors had silently been unlocked behind him. Stranger still, after another shift he switched off all the lights and once again made sure the doors were correctly locked. As he made his way to where his car was parked, he was shocked to see every light in the third floor had come on. Finally, he arrived for work one morning to discover his desk was soaked with water. Even his pen holder was full. The surrounding walls and ceiling were all reported to be ‘bone-dry’ and no source for the mysterious liquid could be found. One quiet dark night, another caretaker heard the sound of a screw slowly turning somewhere in the wood-panelled wall nearby. It was soon followed by the sound of a screw falling to the floor, but when he turned on the lights he could find nothing out of the ordinary.

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Some of the Winchester Mystery House’s spooky denizens might even have been caught on camera, with strange shapes and figures being discovered in photographs, sometime in what appeared to be period dress. Plus, there are a whole host of orb photographs taken at the WMH, but I’m pretty sure this ‘phenomena’ has been ruled out now as non-paranormal.

The house is open to the public. Guests that claim paranormal experiences while at the mansion are encouraged to note the events down in the guestbook. It’s an interesting read, but must be taken cum grano salis.

For more research into real-life cases please check out my ebooks.

Sources

  1. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Winchester_Mystery_House_(door_to_nowhere).jpg
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_Mystery_House
  3. http://www.terragalleria.com/california/picture.usca34984.html
  4. http://www.alamedainfo.com/Winchester_Mystery_House_San_Jose_California_Lucky_7_11_Staircase_Goofy_Staircase.jpg
  5. http://thetruthaboutsarahwinchester.com/
  6. http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lhg5f9EH0F1qg9mht.jpg
  7. http://www.blogcdn.com/realestate.aol.com/blog/media/2012/10/16-1351280166.jpg
Posted in Bizarre, Paranormal, Strange Places, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

ZOZO

English_ouija_board

This is a story that I heard about only recently. A reader of one of my articles on another site got in touch asking for a little help researching a particular series of events that all seemed to be linked. It seems as though more and more independent ouija board sessions were becoming associated with an entity calling itself Zozo. This was the first I knew about it all but, looking into it more, it seems an interesting enough story to share here. In fact, it’s a pretty creepy case in places.

Despite my ignorance of the Zozo phenomenon, it turns out that a lot of people know about it already and reports of contacts with are growing in frequency. These reports often correlate in certain ways, and many of them contain rather alarming phenomena, with:

  • the board’s pointer or glass moving in a figure-of-eight pattern
  • the letter Z found scratched into things nearby
  • violent urges overcoming some board users
  • communication in what seems to be Latin or Hebrew
  • people feeling strangled and attacked in other ways
  • spiders “coming from nowhere”
  • assaults of a sexual nature
  • even people being picked up and losing their sight

—eek!

Here’s one supposed example of a ouija board session that contacted the demon in question:

Some people have even reported that quite rare thing in the paranormal world: being followed home by the alleged weirdness, with phenomena continuing after the ouija board session has ended. This has included hearing ‘conversations’—voices that seem to originate within walls.

“Two nights later I heard my dogs growing in the bedroom where I sleep and they were staring at the door. I got up to see what they were upset at, and when it turned on the lights in the adjoining family room, I saw the table. The glass was scratched/etched with something sharp from underneath…and there was no mistaking the letter Z in that etching.”

The first recorded mention of Zozo seems to be in the 1818 book Dictionairre Infernal by the verbosely-named Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy. Here it is:

[Continued:]

The English translation runs something like this:

“In 1816, Picardy has been the scene of a scandalous case of possession.

“In the small town of Teilly, three leagues from Amiens, a young girl became pregnant, and to cover this accident, she imagined [or ‘began to proclaim’] that she was possessed by three imps, who were called Mimi, Zozo and Crapoulet. As for the latter, it might conceivably be the culprit because it is considered a womaniser. Anyway, Bet the girl was going about the streets, sometimes on all-fours, sometimes forwards and sometimes backwards; sometimes she walked on her hands, feet in the air. Mimi, she said, pushed her forward; Zozo dragged backwards; and malignant Crapoulet was amused to keep her legs in the air.

“An old man of Loyola [a Basque village in Spain], on the lookout for adventures, recognised the devil’s work and took the possessed girl to exorcise her. Mimi went quietly; Zozo was more tenacious and broke a window of the church when he tried to escape through the roof. As for Crapoulet, he was pursued in vain, even with the blessed tool [I think this tool is a holy item such as an Aspergillum] he could not be removed, and eventually took a position in the genitals of the girl, only leaving at the Jesuit’s insistence. There was gossip and unrest in Amiens because of these events, and so the authorities decided to put a stop to the scandal. A man of great intelligence learned of the possessed girl, that she was in fact pregnant, and admitted her to hospital. The Jesuit was forbidden from carrying out exorcisms in the future, under pain of being brought to the police as a fraud.”

The passage above was echoed in a similar text written by historian Jules Garinet who wrote that the Dictionairre Infernal “comes recommended by the purity of the views and the extensive researches of the writer.” Not everyone was as supportive of Collin de Plancy’s work though, and I’ve found at least one quote that illustrates this: Sir John Murray—“[the book contains] a great deal of spurious lore which is sadly calculated to deceived the student of the occult sciences.” Jury’s out in regards to the veracity of this source, then.

So what is Zozo, anyway?

Well, it has revealed itself to be many things. Demons are often described as liars, so who knows what the truth it, but it has called itself an animal entity, a dog with three heads, Lucifer’s daughter, an immortal spirit, and even Lucifer himself. The notorious Aleister Crowley claimed that Zozo was actually a term meaning ‘666’.

Perhaps it is nothing: merely a kind of viral phenomenon in which readers of such stories about Zozo  unconsciously create their own encounters when they use the boards? I’ve written a short ebook about the ideomotor theory*, so I’m rather sceptical when it comes to the supernatural powers that some say ouija boards tap into. Certainly, the latent power of the human mind cannot ever be discounted when it comes to entering into rational investigations of such matters, and I think it is telling that ouija boards are still sold and marketed to children, even in the US—a country where Kinder Eggs are banned. However, subjective evidence abounds.

There is a recent episode of the US show Ghost Adventures that looks into a house affected by the demon after a ouija board session went wrong. I feel it makes for interesting watching no matter which side of the fence you sit on, so I’ve linked it below.

Whatever it is, whether it is a strange entity, a hoax, or some kind of viral hysteria—it is out there. In fact, people have been reporting the existence of this thing around the world for decades—some say it’s been even longer: “Throughout history there have been many cultures plagued by versions of the demon.” So it seems to keep coming back, never quite dying off, and some experts on the subject continue to receive many reports from people who come into contact with it and seem to be seeking help.

For more research into real-life cases please check out my ebooks.

Sources

  1. http://www.mindshadow.fr/le-diable-histoires-vraies/
  2. http://www.ghosttheory.com/2011/08/25/what-is-zozo
  3. http://paranormal.about.com/od/ouijaboards/a/zozo-encounter.htm
  4. http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/ZoZo,_the_Ouija_Demon

*Read more about the ideomotor theory here.

Posted in Bizarre, Paranormal, Urban Myth?, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment