Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Post and MEGA Giveaway: J.L. Bryan

Today I'm thrilled to welcome author J.L Bryan to the blog! Mr. Bryan wrote one of the most memorable and fascinating books I read last year, Jenny Pox, and I'm very excited to be a part of the blog tour to kick off his newest release, The Haunted E-Book. In addition to this guest post, Mr. Bryan is hosting an unbelievable grand prize giveaway for the tour as well as individual giveaways on each of the tour blogs. You'll find all the details for the giveaway at the end of the guest post!

By J.L. Bryan

A séance party is the perfect way to get together with friends and family, enjoy a pleasant evening with wine and hors d'oeuvres, and summon the souls of the dead for some lively conversation.

The focus of a séance is talking with departed spirits, but your guests will be the ones departing early if you haven't provided for their comfort and entertainment. The following helpful hints, compiled by the editors of that wonderful (if nonexistent) periodical Ladies’ Haunted Home Journal, will make your séance party a spectral success instead of a spooktacular failure.

Invitations: Every party begins with the invites! You can go old-school with faded parchment and fine Gothic calligraphy—maybe even a gruesome blood color!--or ghostly white text on a black background. Avoid the temptation to use cartoony ghosts, as these can be insulting to your guests from the Other Side. If you absolutely must use lace-fringed invitations, old yellow lace is preferred. The dead enjoy things that are in a state of decay, like themselves.

Decorations: White, billowy window curtains and tablecloths are preferred. You'll want something lightweight, since it's easier for the ghosts to puff them out like a cold wind to let you know they've arrived. Candles are a must! Black or white, and occasionally red, are acceptable, but avoid bright spring colors. These could remind the ghosts of the lives they've lost, and next thing you know, you've got a nasty haunting going on. Your guests will run away screaming, ruining your party.

In general, keep your lights dim. Spread around a few plastic tombstones and skulls if you like, but don't go overboard. A scowling jack-o'-lantern by the front door lends a nice ambiance—and it can do double-duty by helping guests find your home!

Music: Build your music selections around the tastes of those you're trying to contact: Beethoven if you want to attract 19th-century Viennese intellectuals, David Allen Coe if you're summoning your dead Uncle Jeeter. (Tip: Mix in a little Hall of the Mountain King, and Mozart's Confutatus, as these songs make any ghost feel right at home!)

Refreshments: No séance party would be complete without spirits, and we think nothing says “ghostly” like a fine white wine. Consider serving lady fingers and other foods named after dismembered body parts. Ghosts themselves like to taste the blood of the freshly killed, so put in a call to your local slaughterhouse and make arrangements. Don't bore the ghosts back to death with chicken or pig blood—treat them to something a little more exotic, like goat or lizard blood. This could be a little more difficult to obtain, but those big, skull-like grins on your guests' faces will be worth the extra effort!

Entertainment: The main event of your party is calling up the dead, so your choice of a medium might be the most important one you make. An old gypsy woman is the classic medium, and always in fashion, but don't be afraid to branch out. It's critical to make sure your medium does look and act the part. Interview several, and whether you go with a voodoo woman from the bayou or a long-bearded old wizard, you need a medium with personality and people skills. A brusque, rude medium, or one who's always falling into speechless drooling trances, can turn off your guests, living and otherwise, and you'll be struggling to resurrect your dying party all night long.

Speaking with the Dead: The dead will be the life of your party—if you remember to treat them just like the living, and don't make them feel inferior just because they're disembodied. Keep the conversation light and moving. Avoid touchy subjects like: how they died, whether they have unfinished business on the earthly plane, and whether they feel a need for blood vengeance against any of the living. More pleasant topics include: their favorite memories from life, who they've met and mingled with on the Other Side, and how their living descendants are doing.

Wrapping up: After the séance, be sure that all of the dead have been thoroughly banished from your home. A séance can leave undesirable hauntings that only grow worse if you don't deal with them promptly. The medium should take care of this, but if you hear a lot of bumps in the night, chains in the attic or screams in the basement in the days following your party, be sure to call a parapsychologist or the religious leader of your choice to clear out those guests who just won't leave.

If you follow these simple guidelines, your séance party is sure to be a success! However, these tips can always be improved. In the comments below, let us know what you would do to make your séance party a fun and memorable experience. Don’t forget that commenting enters you to win today’s prize of a pair of ebooks (Dark Tomorrows and The Haunted E-book), plus it enters you for The Haunted E-book Tour Grand Prizes!

J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He is the author of five novels and one short-story collection. His new novel is The Haunted E-book. The sequel to his novel Jenny Pox will be available by summer 2011.


As Mr. Bryan mentioned above, there are e-books of both
The Haunted E-book and Dark Tomorrows up for grabs for one lucky commenter! Be sure and include your email address in your comment along with your response to the seance party prompt so I can contact you if you win. Every person who comments on the post today will also be entered in the grand prize giveaway which includes a KINDLE! There are tons of ways to get extra entries for the grand prizes, so be sure and check out Mr. Bryan's tour launch post HERE for additional details. Contest will run through midnight EST on January 27th. Good luck everyone and thank you so much Mr. Bryan!


  1. That was so awesome! Great guest post, very entertaining!

    Here's my email for the competition (I guess it's international?):

  2. That sounds like just the kind of thing I would have gone for back in my goth days (oh, so long ago) LOL

    Wow, The Jenny Pox is only $2.99 on Kindle... I may have to check it out.

  3. Seance party. So fun. I did stuff like this at sleepovers in middle school. It'd actually be kind of a fun jokey thing to do at a party now.
    alisoncanread at gmail dot com

  4. Oh...forgot the prompt - My idea of making the party "fun" would probably be to not take it too seriously. And since I don't have faith that any spirits would actually show up, I might get someone to pretend to be a spirit to freak everybody out.
    alisoncanread at gmail dot com

  5. Thanks so much for having me today, Jenny!

    Rachel- Yes, it's international, so feel free to enter. :)

    Madigan & Alison- Thanks so much for your comments!

  6. I think I would be way too much of a chicken to ever do a seance. But if I did, I would probably have to stay relaxed and not get too serious about it, or else I would completely freak out!

  7. Wow - I liked this guest post! I remember playing with a Ouigia board when I was little, and I loved it. I'd probably do the same as I did then haha we turned off all the lights, lit a million (ok, mabye 50) candles, and played really creepy halloween music. ;)


  8. Yes. Yes. YES. Totally doing this! :D It would be worth it just for the ambiance alone! Seances are my very favourite new thing!

    kemendraugh at gmail dot com

  9. Blahahahahaha "The dead will be the life of your party!"


    I honestly never knew so much was involved in hosting a séance. Now I just might be prepared.

    Great guest post! Full of win!

  10. Great post!!! Enter me please!!!

    bwithbite (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. Very, very cool. My friend does a whole show of Victorian seance stuff. It's so much fun.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. What a fun guestpost! :D However I am too much of a coward to even try this in actual life.


  13. If I was going to try it I'd tie it in with a halloween party.

    sgiden at

  14. Don't forget the ghostly snacks! Ghoul punch, lady fingers (duh), and things like that. That wouldn't make the ghosts too uneasy, right? ;) Fun post!
    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

  15. I think I would decorate with pictures of those that passed so that we can correctly identify the spirit guests that might drop by. Wouldn't want to be rude and not know a guest!!!! Sounds like a fun read

  16. How did I miss your Jenny Pox review? Picked up a copy!

    I have to agree with Melissa. You need some fun spookish snacks!

  17. Bring the diary of the ghost that you want to call and read all the really salacious parts aloud.

    gwensinful @

  18. Hiya!
    Not entering, but just following the tour -- this was a total "bwah haha" post and it had me smiling as soon as I finished -- seance parties ;-) rofl


  19. This post gave me the shivers. You really set a good mood for a seance!

  20. Thanks for commenting, everyone!

    Midnyte Reader- Does your friend have a website? That stuff fascinates me.

    Good suggestions so far, too! I like the idea of the pictures, and also reading aloud from the departed's diary--THAT should get a ghost's attention!

  21. Great post, JL!!! And I can't believe there isn't a Ladies Haunted Home Journal out there! Come on! Southern psychic housewives unite!!!

    I would have to say that I would add a body for the spirits to possess, so they could more fully speak to the other guests. I probably would volunteer my husband for that task since A) he would get to drink himself silly in order to be passed out and available for ghostly possession and B) he doesn't believe in ghosts so he wouldn't be worried about a spirit moving in and being hard to evict.

    Thanks again for giving me a chuckle! Looking forward to the rest of your posts!

  22. ahahah thats a hilarious post! I laughed like crazy! I have NO idea what to add...but you can bet I would be conjuring up Michael Jackson lol...and maybe Farrah Faucet lol
    I can't wait to read your book!

  23. I have been meaning to read Jenny Pox for so long and I just forget when I place a book order. I'm going to put it in my shopping cart so I don't forget!


    Thanks for the instructions on how to host a seance. Don't think I'll be doing it EVER! But just in case, I feel properly instructed.

  24. OMG no way would I even THINK about having a seance! Totally too scary for me. Fab post though. Really made me LOL.

  25. Pushy - So glad you're willing to volunteer your husband for ghostly possession! (Admit it, there are certain ghosts you would like to see possess's not cheating if you use your spouse's body!)

    Buried in Books- Thanks! I hope you like Jenny Pox!

    Slowest Bookworm - If you had a seance, it would probably summon a whole flock of wood owls...

  26. By the way, everyone, you still have time to enter more times for the Grand Prizes by commenting on the tour launch post ( and over at The Slowest Bookworm (

    You can also enter on my guest post at Darkeva, which I think she's posting later today:


  27. Spooky! To make my seance go with a bang (!) I'd have some taped noises going off around the house randomly throughout - to keep everyone on their toes! Great post! :)


  28. I'd get out some of the Halloween decorations and spook the place up a bit!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  29. Stopping by to enter. Noticing a lot of Melissas. Did the seance call to all of them? Chipaholicmel at yahoo dot com

  30. This is getting me pumped for Halloween and it's January! I hadn't heard of Jenny Pox or The Haunted EBook, will be giving one of them a try soon :)

    This is one of the most unique author posts I have read, it was awesome!

  31. Awesome post. Thanks for sharing. I think I would have a fog machine. The atmosphere is ever so important in these types of situations.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  32. Mel - Good idea with the sound effects!

    Meredith - Halloween decorations are ideal.

    Melissa - Thanks for stopping by!

    Natalie - Thanks! We'll have Halloween in January, sort of like Christmas in July...sort of...

    Donna - Fog machines are a good idea, too!

    Thanks for commenting, everyone! I'll enter all of you for the Grand Prize giveaways!

  33. Parapsychologist on speed dial. *thumbs up
    Can't leave out a RIP pinata.
    Great checklist. Thanks!
    TLR33960 at hotmail dot com

  34. In Sam Raimi's latest masterpiece, Drag Me to Hell, there was a goat at the seance. If memory serves, he was needed so that an evil spirit could be driven into him, and then he could be slaughtered. A goat may be a good idea in case you do encounter an evil spirit who needs to be banished. Or you could just invite your most loathed acquaintance, and take care of both annoyances, living and dead, in one easy sacrifice.

  35. Great guest post! I won't be hosting a seance party any time soon though!

    Shelleyrae @ book'd out