Meet Our Members ~ Grace Augustine

Author, Editor, and Artist
Grace Augustine

A native of Montana, Grace has never lost her love for the mountains. On any given day, she will randomly post photos from the Glacier National Park webcams, sharing the beauty of the Rockies with her friends and family.

Her background in administration and journalism has taken her on several journeys including in the fields of title and abstracting, chiropractic, owning a weekly newspaper, church administration and she's even delivered a sermon or two.

Grace began an editing business several years ago because "every book I picked up had errors" and she wanted to help authors put out the best products possible. She is also a top ten selling Amazon author with her book SO YOU HAVE MS. NOW WHAT? her personal journey with Multiple Sclerosis.  With twenty books published and more in the works, she plans to write until she can't.

You can find out more about her artwork and novels by clicking the links below.





Never Say Never ~ by Joanne Jaytanie

I've been crazy busy the last two months, and I veered off my writing schedule for the year. But, I didn’t do so lightly. I weighed the pros and cons and thought it was well worth the left turn. One could even say that I didn’t take a sharp turn, rather a slight bend. 

I was invited to take part in a Christmas collection with a fantastic group of authors. And, if you look closely at my very professional list and read #7, it says Christmas book 3. 

For the last two years, I've wanted to do another Christmas story, but I never made the time. It worked out that the theme of our Christmas collection: Christmas at Mistletoe Lodge couldn’t have been a better fit for Forever Christmas in Glenville, book three, Christmas Chemistry.

The cover turned out perfect. It always does when Linda Boulanger designs it. The special part is the Doberman. It's my beautiful girl, Maya. I still remember the day I took this photo, she was chasing snowballs. It was a perfect moment.

I was nervous that I wouldn’t make the deadline – two deadlines on the same day, but I made them. I stuck to my writing schedule, and more importantly, I have an editor that is always there and willing to take on my next project. I took care of my new puppy – Mazie, just in case you haven’t heard 😉 and made dinner. Everything else took a backseat, and I made my deadlines!! 

A few weeks before being invited into the Christmas collection, I committed to a different type of story with the authors of Romance Books 4 Us. Each author in the book is writing their own serial or episodic story for Soldiers of Fortune or SOF. Volume 3 of SOF releases on October 15th, and it's the part 2 of my story, Dogs of Fortune.

I hadn’t included dogs in either of my last two books, Salvaging Truth or Twice As Bad. I think I was having withdrawals. Christmas Chemistry is Gina's story, and she's been in love with Dobermans since the day she started working at Forever Christmas, in Christmas Reflections, book 1. So, along comes Angel and the two are nearly inseparable. And Dogs of Fortune – well, doesn’t the title tell it all? It has dogs! Blair Sellick is a well-known dog trainer with exceptional skills. Some, like Zane Kelly, might even call her psychically enhanced.

So, if you haven’t seen me around the watercooler (otherwise known as FaceBook) much lately, now you know why. I've been WRITING. I love it, I do. I certainly wouldn't want to try and keep up this pace for an entire year.

This is the first time in over two years that I've written in a collection with other authors. I'd said I wouldn't do multiple-author collections again because they pull me away from my writing goal. I have my reasons for the choices to do so this time…What were they? If you want to know the answer to that question, you must attend the workshop I’m co-teaching with my dear friend, Jacquolyn McMurray, this Friday at the Emerald City Writers Conference or ECWC. What’s the workshop? Participating in a Collection: Pros and Cons. We chose this topic back in February, and I already had my year planned out, or so I thought.

Kinda ironic, wouldn't you say? Yep, that's my life.

I'm beyond thrilled and honored to be a finalist in the ECWC Best Blurb Contest! Thank you, judges!

Until next time…

Choosing Historical Fiction ~ by Author DK Marley

I am sure my story is not unique among writers. We all have that little itch that begins in childhood (at least that is when mine started) of telling stories, creating imaginary worlds, falling down rabbit holes, and the like. Alice and I were kindred spirits, skipping through the woods behind my grandparent's house, lost in a world of our own.

My childhood imaginings later developed into writing around middle school. The book that truly got me thinking about writing something of my own was Green Mansions by William Henry Hudson, as well as an insatiable appetite for all the books of Victoria Holt.

During my first year of High School, I started my very first novel. I think about that story now and cringe, but also smile to see how far I have come on my writing journey Oh, how I have learned and continue to learn, which is how it should be for a writer in any genre. For me, a writer needs to be a voracious reader, which I am to my own detriment sometimes because I have to remind myself that I need to get back to own stories.

The choice to become a historical fiction author felt so comfortable when I finally started finding my voice in the late 1980s. I wrote a novel back then of a young girl growing up in Kashmir during the British occupation, right before the Indian Mutiny, who was half Indian and half British. When I started doing the research for the novel, I knew then where I needed to be. Researching historical people and events found a home in my heart and in my novels.

That manuscript still sits on my shelf waiting for awakening. Perhaps, one day.

In 1997 is really when I started finding my voice as a writer for that
year was my very first visit to the UK. I dove into the history, toured every historical place I always heard about and dreamed about, especially anything having to do with William Shakespeare.

All those years ago, when I was that little girl creating worlds in my mind, my grandmother, an English Literature teacher, sparked my interest in literature and Shakespeare at the burgeoning age of eleven. She gave me her college textbooks and I finished reading both from cover to cover within a few months. My mind blossomed with the words of the Bard, Milton, Marlowe, Jonson, Sidney, and on and on... So when I visited the places in 1997, I knew a story was begging to be told. I just needed to find the right one.

During the trip, I visited the Globe Theatre in Southwark, and it was here that something spoke to me. A pair of eyes looked back at me from a display in the museum at the Globe, almost begging for me to tell his story. I started researching the relationship between Kit Marlowe and William Shakespeare, about the authorship question, and the rest is history.

Since that faithful day, and after years of writing, and editing, and
rewriting, and crying, and almost giving up; then going to an amazing writer's retreat and finding some incredible mentors, my first novel saw the light of day.

I published "Blood and Ink" (the first edition was only ten copies 
for my family and friends in 2010). The reaction was not what I hoped for and as a newbie writer, my heart broke. I gave up writing for five whole years. For five years, the itch never left me, but I never scratched. And then, tragedy struck our family. In February of 2015, a drunk driver took the lives of my daughter and son-in-law. In a flash, everything changed.

During my attempt to find a way to cope with the unbearable grief, I started a journal to my daughter, telling her things I wanted her to know as if we were still having conversations on the phone. A grief counselor told me that I needed to use this outlet as a way to heal. Writing burst back into my life at the moment I truly needed it. The release of writing the actions of my characters, the arc of the story, and the way the story ends gave control back to my life in a most unexpected way. Even the decision to self-publish empowered me.

Too many things were out of my control - the loss of my precious children, the day-to-day waking up with the emptiness and depression, the dealing with a callous unrepentant wrongdoer in the court case against the driver - so writing is healing me.

I will never be the same, of course. I am forever in that club now, a club I never wanted to be a part of, but it is what it is. Writing gives me a voice and writing about historical people and the past gives me the chance to connect with the past. Through the generations and centuries, we touch those now gone, we hear their voices, when we write historical fiction. Who knows, perhaps one day I will write a story for my daughter; but for now, to continue the legacy my grandmother gave me is enough. One day at a time, one word at a time, we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past (my favorite line from F. Scott Fitzgerald).

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction author specializing in Shakespearean themes. The "Shakespearean Madeline Miller", if you will. She is a true Stratfordian (despite the topic of her novel "Blood and Ink"), a Marlowe fan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. Her new series titled "The Fractured Shakespeare Series" adapts each legendary play into a historical fiction novel. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop "The Writer's Retreat Workshop" founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terrier named Molly. You can get in touch with her via the links below.

Handcrafting music ~ by Kristine Raymond

Music has always been a part of life.  You know those scenes in movies where the mom and kids dance around singing their favorite songs?  Yeah, that happened in my house.  The stereo was alive from sunup to sundown and if Mom wasn't playing her vinyl, then the radio was on.  In addition, both my sister and I took piano lessons - she excelled, I barely learned the scales - and I sang in my school chorus from seventh grade through eleventh. 

What intrigued me, though, was my Dad's guitar, mostly because I'd never seen him play it.  It was a basic acoustic instrument, nothing fancy, and sat in a corner of the basement, its strings untouched.  Every once in a while, he'd let me pick it up, my fingers producing a horribly out of tune racket in my attempt to make music.  When I left home to begin my own life, he gave it to me, but I never learned to play and eventually sold it in a yard sale.  (Man, I wish I'd hung onto it - but that's another story.)

Fast forward a a few years.  How lucky was I that the man who became my husband shared my love of music?  Not only that, his fascination with guitars rivaled my own.  It wasn't long before he bought one.  There's just something about having a musical instrument around - any musical instrument - that adds a homey feel.  Kind of like having a fireplace.  But I digress.  
Copyright © Kristine Raymond
A second acoustic guitar soon followed the first, then an electric model with an amp.  To date, I think we're up to eight, including a classical guitar.  Or is it nine?  I've lost count.  And there's a mandolin in there somewhere, too.  (Funny thing to note is that I still don't play - we both took lessons a few years ago and, as with the piano, I struggled to learn scales.  I'm definitely less musically-inclined than I'd like to be.)  The hubs, on the other hand, picked it up right away and is quite talented.  He'd play all day long if he could.  

Copyright © Kristine Raymond
Another of his passions is working with wood and, recently, he combined the two.  Cleaning up the yard not too long ago after a storm, he picked up a tree branch and an idea formed.  (Isn't that how it happens?)  Cutting a manageable-sized chunk, he brought it inside and set to work, chiseling and shaping and sanding, then hand-polishing his creation with beeswax and mineral oil to a satiny finish.  

Voilà!  A handmade guitar pick.

Copyright © Kristine Raymond
Not only are his picks beautiful, they're functional, and produce a lovely tone when stroked against an instrument's strings.  He's been experimenting with different varieties of wood - the ones in the pic below are made from black locust.  (Check out the one shaped like an arrowhead.) 
Copyright © Kristine Raymond

There's nothing better than tapping into your source of creativity and letting it take you places you never imagined.  In my case, it's crafting new worlds with words.  In my hubs' case, it's crafting music with wood.

Note - if you're interested in owning one, please contact me for pricing.

Genre Hopping ~by Author Marci Bolden

Many authors have a favorite type of book to write and stick with it. Me? I’m a bit more like a squirrel that ate an entire filter of barely used coffee grounds. My brain goes all over the place and is nearly impossible to control. I fall into the category of the genre hopper. I started my writing career in erotica, moved on to contemporary romance, dabbled in paranormal, dipped my toes into thriller. Now, after lots of research, interviews, and a week spent at the Writers’ Police Academy I’m diving into the romantic suspense pool.
Many authors bounce from genre to genre. While I can’t speak for them, I tend to switch things up because I follow what my characters are telling me to write. When I’m starting a new series, I rarely set out to write something for a specific genre. That’s probably a dangerous practice, but it is one that has worked well for me and lets me flesh out the characters and stories without worry of fitting into the boundaries of certain genres.
I didn’t intend for this to be a series, when I started writing these characters about three years ago, but I absolutely fell in love with these ladies. They are tough as nails, tender when they need to be, and always ready to kick butt.
The series started with Holly Austin being the victim of a crime and her boyfriend Jack trying to solve it, but quickly morphed into Holly being a badass private investigator leading the case. I knew before I was done that Holly was going to be the “hero” of the book. I wanted this focused on how strong women are. That doesn’t mean I’ve emasculated the men, not even close.
Holly and Jack are equals in every way.
Before I was finished, I knew I had to write books for the rest of the women on Holly’s team and my dabbling into romantic suspense became a six-book series!
The Women of HEARTS series is a bit darker romantic suspense. The cases aren’t cozy or easily solved. The reality these women live in can be tough, violent, and dangerous. But so can they. I’m so excited to introduce you to Holly Austin, Eva Thompson, Alexa Rodriguez, Rene Schwartz, Tika Brown, and Samantha Turner. With a diverse background in military, police, and professional training, the women have joined forces to make the world—or at least their town—a safer place.
I am so excited for this series and I hope you are too!
Hidden Hearts: Women of HEARTS Book 1 will be available October 15 and Burning Hearts: Women of HEARTS Book 2 will be following up on October 29.

Former Army Sergeant Holly Austin and her team at the HEARTS agency don’t normally find the police at their door. But it’s been weeks since a local woman vanished into thin air…and now there’s a second victim.

Police Detective Jack Tarek wasn’t officially working the Julia Fredrickson case until a second victim made the matter personal. Holly is willing to cooperate with Jack “unofficially,” but she quickly becomes a distraction he can’t resist. The leads on their cases might be running cold, but the attraction between the investigators is sizzling hot.
With every lead a dead end, those close to the investigation grow increasingly impatient for answers. Just as hidden secrets come to light, one of the investigators vanishes without a trace. The HEARTS team has just hours to solve the case—or risk losing one of their own.

After a spycam is discovered in a secure community, the
homeowners association hires HEARTS to track down the culprit.Investigator Eva Thompson fits the description of every victim so far and volunteers to move into a vacant condo to draw out the suspect from within. But until they know what’s behind the peeping, no one feels safe sending Eva as a decoy alone.
Joshua Simmons is Eva’s ex and the one man she can’t quite escape. As the county medical examiner, he frequently consults with HEARTS and cases—and uses that connection to keep close to the woman he’s still not over. When Eva needs a fake husband to work alongside her as a decoy, Josh agrees on one condition: that Eva won’t do anything to put herself in harm’s way.
Living together stirs up old feelings and old passions. And while Eva and Joshua try to sort out their demons, a voyeur is on the loose and getting braver by the day.

About Marci Bolden
As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading romance novels. She never left.
Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

To learn more about Marci you can find her here:

FOMO or Just Taking the Road Less Traveled ~ by Cynthia Land LMP, RYT

 Many who come to a yoga practice have heard a teacher make reference to something called the 8 limbs of yoga. Many of you have come expressly to practice one of those limbs, asana (limb 3, the physical postures of yoga).   Perhaps you have an interest in dhyana (meditation, limb 7) or pranayama (breathing exercises, limb 4) but you haven’t asked for these things specifically, they are an interesting by-product of a class.  If your teacher is steeped in the 8 limbs, you may begin hearing about and become fascinated with the rest of the limbs. 

Pratyahara, limb 5, invites us to turn our awareness inward.  Take your eyes off the iPhone, put down the fork, stop talking, turn off the music and just become quiet and completely disengage from everything.  This will be nearly impossible for some of us, especially if you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out).
     We live in a society that pushes us to have and do more.  In fact, we are often told via advertisements that we are empty and we must fill our lives with a myriad of wonderful products and experiences, take a cruise, buy a new car, and check out the shoe sale on Zappos!  Who can pass up the latest and greatest new thing?  No one wants to be left behind. 

     And yet we struggle with the burden of all these THINGS in our lives.  We can barely manage all the events we have scheduled, all the running hither and yon, taking the kids to yet another soccer practice and picking up groceries for the week.  We long to shut things off but just can’t figure out how.  So, just as we started, we must slowly begin to remove things from the schedule. 
     However, this notion of pratyahara (withdrawing the senses) may seem frightening, who really wants to shut down their senses?  They’re kind of handy.  Yet, all day we’re bombarded with sounds, smells, sights and some tastes we’d really rather forget.  Let’s take a look at this limb in a slightly different perspective.
     In the book, The Yoga of Discipline by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda the author says; “the whole purpose of hatha yoga is to draw the attention inward.” Simply by stepping onto the mat, we have already started the journey.  And just like many yoga postures, we go slowly.  Maybe take just a minute to start. 
     Go into a darkened room and sit, quietly, no distractions.  Your mind will probably seem loud but you will learn to divert the attention IN to the body and begin directing your thoughts.  Pratyahara doesn’t necessarily mean shut OFF, it means go INWARD.  Start to listen inward, feel inward and see inward.  You might be surprised at what you start to learn about yourself.  You might learn you don’t like going hither and yon as much as you thought.  You might learn that you don’t need as much as you thought and that you can live with a lot less and the things that you do have will have much more meaning and usefulness to you. 
After some time, maybe a LOT of time, you’ll start to crave this thing called pratyahara.  You’ll be able to go out into the world, engage when you need and then disengage when you need to and recharge.  That’s the beauty of the 8 limbs of yoga, there’s something there for you all along with path of this thing we call life.  Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Wildlife and Nature Photography by Mark Townsend

Nature and wildlife photography take a good eye and good camera equipment to capture just the right shot of your subject. Sometimes you wait for hours and others you wait seconds. Here are just a few of the memories captured by photographer, Mark Townsend.

copyright/Mark Townsend

October 2, 2018 This Semi came driving along while I was trying to get a photo of the color along the Swan Valley road. I almost did not take this photo waiting to let the truck pass. I am glad I did not wait. I feel it adds to the Montana roads we travel on.

The Driveway into the Marcus Daly Mansion was closed by the
Marcus Daly Mansion driveway
time we went past it. I stopped at the gate and took a few photos to show how the trees are turning to fall colors. By early next week they should be fantastic. If you have not been to the Mansion, it is well worth the ride to see it. Just north of Hamilton, Montana on East Side Road. I am sure if you search for it, the website can give you exact miles and times that it is open to the Public.

Looking West from the road called Wild Fowl Lane that runs
Lee Metcalf Refuge Bitterroot Mountains

through Lee Metcalf Refuge. The sun came out just enough to give some color to the woods and the fog opened enough to see the Bitterroots. Still some frost and snow on the tips of the trees.

Skalkaho Falls copyright Mark Townsend
Today, though, we switched gears and direction. Around 2PM the sun was out, and the day was turning rather nice. I said... Let’s head up to Skalkaho Falls and see if there is any snow around it. We packed up some water and clothing, just in case, grabbed Punkin and headed out.  By the time we got up to the Falls, the sun was down behind the mountain to the west of the falls. It was now covered in dark shadow. I set up my camera to get the best settings I could for the photos.

copyright Mark Townsend

I enjoy seeing how the photos come out in Black/White. I think it gives them so much more of a rugged not-to-be-messed-with look. The clouds broke up just right to add a lot to the photos. I feel a few clouds in a photos sets off the photos.  Keep watching More photos of the Bison Range to come.

Lynn and I saw a lot of these little guys running all over trying to
chipmunk copyright Mark Townsend
gather food before the snow covers it all. They don’t stand still for long, so you have to be ready to take photos as you can. I stayed very still, and he stepped out of the bushes on the side of the road. I got two photos. I like how they came out... Lots of other animals to see at the Bison Range.

Here are some random wildlife photos:

Turkey in a tree copyright Mark Townsend

A flock of pelicans copyright Mark Townsend

Whitetail buck  copyright Mark Townsend
Photo bomb by a deer copyright Mark Townsend

Our journey wouldn't be complete without more of that beautiful Montana landscape.

**All photos used in this post are the property of Mark Townsend Photography and may not be copied or used in any form without permission.

Mark Townsend and his wife, Lynn, live in Montana with their dog, Punkin. If you like Mark's photography, please let him know by checking out his Facebook page, link provided below.

Why I Write Romance ~ by Author Penny Hampson

I’ve always been an avid reader. From when I first learned to read, I was usually to be found with a book in my hand. This didn’t change as I got older. Living near to not one, but two libraries, each located equal but opposite distances from my home, I joined both and visited every Saturday morning. With six books from each, I got through a lot of books.

Things didn’t change when I grew older, only now I was able to buy the books that took my fancy. Commuting three hours everyday to work and back meant I had plenty of time for reading. Whisked away to another time and place, a clever plot, and engaging characters, made the journey time shrink.  

My taste is fairly eclectic, I enjoy nearly any subject matter, providing it is well written and engaging. I read the classics, Jane Austen (of course) and Dickens, as well as modern writers like Kate Atkinson, Ian Rankin, P.D. James. It goes without saying that, as a historian, I also read lots of non-fiction history books. But if I was feeling low, reading something light and escapist was the answer. Georgette Heyer was an author I remembered from my teen years for her lively Regency romances. Beautifully written and well-researched, I enjoyed reading them all over again. To my delight I discovered lots more authors writing in the same genre — these became my go-to reads when I needed a boost.   

Well, that’s what I like to read… now, what started me writing?

A few years ago I was forced to face up to the fact that I couldn’t continue with my full-time job and provide the necessary care for a family member with health problems. I’d been doing just that for ten years and it was becoming a progressively more difficult balancing act. So, I decided to take early retirement. That freed up some time… time that I wanted to be just for me, and time that I wanted to be productive.
The answer seemed obvious… I decided to write.

Writing romance was a logical choice. Romance books had offered me the chance to escape from my problems, on days when everything seemed to be conspiring against me. I knew I felt better after reading an uplifting and compelling story, with characters I cared about overcoming their problems and finding their happy ever after. What better place was there to start than with the genre I enjoy the best?

My aim is to create swoon-worthy heroes, intelligent heroines, and set them in an historical era that I know well. My characters will have lots of adventures, challenges galore… they might not like each other to begin with, but they will fall in love, and there will always be a happy ending.

It is my small way of giving something back, in recognition of the help and comfort romance fiction gave to me.

Having worked in various sectors before becoming a full time mum, Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree. 

Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing historical fiction. Encouraged by friends and family, three years later Penny published her debut novel A Gentleman’s Promise

Her second novel, An Officer’s Vow, was released in February 2019.

Penny is working hard on her third novel in The Gentlemen Series, which will be published in 2020.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, England, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

You can connect with Penny at the following links:

Real Life Haunted Castles by Linda Boulanger

It seemed quite fitting as we begin this month of October—a month people enjoy celebrating all things ghoulish, that I would be writing my thirteenth post for Originality by Design. I decided to share with you something I ran across in my writing research that I found rather fascinating: Haunted Castles!

As old as the castles of England are, there are bound to be ghosts in the closets… or more appropriately and historically factual, hiding in cupboards, lurking in darkened stairwells, or wailing from long ago used dungeons or torture chambers.

While there are tons of great castles scattered throughout Europe, I’ve chosen to focus on the castles of England for this post. Except for one, which I’ll start with: Hermitage Castle.

Considered “the guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Scotland,” Hermitage Castle is said to be steeped in a history filled with conspiracy, killing, anguish and treachery. Built around 1240 by Nicholas de Soulis. Folklore has it that one of his descendants was involved in the Black Arts and that de Soulis made a pact with the devil who promised him immunity from harm by iron weapons or hanging. Wreaking havoc on his enemies, this evil man also tortured his tenants and kidnapped and sacrificed local children, until the people finally turned on him, capturing him and plunging him into a boiling pot… since ropes and steel couldn’t be used.

It’s said his spirit still wanders the grounds, as well as those of his victims. Visitors have been known to hear loud, prolonged screeching, or feel a cold hand run down their backs. The heavy gate swinging on its hinges making one feel as if he or she was being entombed in the vault within the belly of the castle. It’s definitely not a place I’d like to be at night.

Chilling Chillingham: It doesn't look all that dark and foreboading until you learn about its history. Another castle occupying a strategically important location on the border of two feuding nations, this stronghold can be found in the village of Chillingham in the northern part of Northumberland, England. Originally a monastery in the late 12th century, it’s hard to believe the place is marketed as being one of the most haunted castles in Britain. Hundreds of paranormal events have been recorded there, which may be due to the one purpose the castle itself was built: for killing.

Owned by the Grey family (coincidence?!!), the castle was considered the first line of defense against invading Scots. Those taken prisoner were subjected to great horrors in the dungeons located in the deepest darkest holes of the castle. The torture chambers had floors that sloped in order to drain away the blood. It’s estimated that thousands of Scots died in those chambers considered to have come straight from hell. Run by a man by the name of John Sage who was believed to have tortured somewhere around fifty people a week for over three years, he had every imaginable torture device. Iron maidens, racks, cages, and others that can still be found inside the castle today.

The man who committed heinous acts on men, women, and children met his demise in the courtyard of the same castle, being strung and mutilated by the relatives of some of those he tortured.

Having seen so much terror and tragedy, it seems unlikely the castle would not be haunted and visitors are seldom disappointed. Feelings, smells, and apparitions have all been reported as well as pulled hair, scratched arms, and even a bite or two. That said, I’m sorry to say its Ghost Tour dates are completely sold out for 2019.

Let’s jump down and visit Lancaster Castle in the English county of Lancashire. Believed to have been founded on the site of an old Roman fort built in 79 AD, the castle is the oldest standing building in Lancaster. Owned by The Duchy of Lancaster (FYI: the current Queen of England is the Duke of Lancaster), the castle is often referred to as John O’ Gaunt’s Castle. Until 2011, the castle was a fully functioning prison and throughout its history, it saw its share of religious persecutions, well over two hundred executions, and the notorious Pendle witches were kept and tried at Lancaster in 1612. These men and women were part of a family of local peasants that lived in the nearby Pendle hills. Supposedly in league with the devil, they made clay effigies using human hair and teeth, and ten of them were charged with murder using witchcraft and sentenced to death. Political adversaries were also often held at and executed at the castle. Most executions at Lancaster were not as gruesome as the deaths at Chillingham, instead being accomplished first by public hangings and later in a private execution shed built especially for the hangings.

Ghosts from Lancaster's past have been seen numerous times by both visitors and former inmates. Even during the daytime tours, people have been pushed and shoved by unseen forces at such a common rate that the guides have come to expect it. Considering its history, how could anyone expect anything less?

Majestic in size as well as historical significance, is another castle that touts itself as perhaps England’s most haunted castle. Dover Castle, located in the southern county of Kent is considered the “Key to England” the castle had immense strategic importance. It was England’s best line of defense to protect the country from enemies passing through the English Channel. In its time, Dover Castle was a prison, a fortress, and a royal palace with eerie passageways that have been the home to many ghosts, including King Charles. If you’re brave enough, you can spend the night at Dover Castle and take a walk through secret passageways and medieval tunnels. Perhaps you’ll see the ghost of a decapitated drummer boy or the mysterious woman in her crimson dress.

For the last haunted castle we’ll look at, though certainly not the last one in England, we’ll head to Arundel Castle, ancestral home of the dukes of Norfolk in Sussex, England. This castle may be our youngest, dating back to the 19th century… don’t let that fool you. It’s steeped in Medieval history, having been built over the remains of at least one and more likely two previous castles.

From phantom cannon sounds to actual apparitions, this castle is supposedly haunted by numerous ghosts, including the Earl of Arundel (who has appeared to a lot of people), a Blue Man in the library, and a young woman who jumped to her death. The castle is also purported to have its own “death omen” in the form of a phantom white bird that flutters against windows to warn of impending death.

Steeped in history, every castle I’ve studied in my research of Medieval England has had some sort of ghost story. From the hauntingly beautiful to the downright scary, they’ve all added to the richness of and provided deeper glimpses into a past we can only experience through stories and imagination, allowing us into lives of people who lived long ago… and some that remain, perhaps darker and less human than others.

Meet Our Members ~ Grace Augustine

Author, Editor, and Artist Grace Augustine A native of Montana, Grace has never lost her love for the mountains. On any given da...