On February 27 at 10:20am, I had the pleasure of doing a short, in-studio interview with Riley & Scot at WROK 1440 AM in Rockford. After the unfortunate and untimely demise of 100.5 FM, this is now one of the only local talk radio shows left in the Rockford area. The other is The Michael Koolidge Show, which is also on WROK. I appeared briefly on Koolidge’s show as well to promote the Secret Rockford book release party at Tinker Swiss Cottage. The studio was comfortable despite the subzero temperatures outside. Thanks, guys!
I recently had the opportunity to go on several local news and radio programs to talk about Black Oak Media’s new anthology, Secret Rockford, including Paul Youngblood and Ken DeCoster’s radio shows on WNTA 100.5 FM. These appearances have done wonders to boost the book’s sales, and I anticipate going on a few more shows in the near future. I have to give a big thank you to these hosts for having me on!
On Wednesday, February 12, I had the distinction of being the featured speaker at Lake Land College’s “Tacos & Tales” event. The event was a huge success, attracting over 40 students hungry for both knowledge of local folklore and tacos. I was told it was one of the best turnouts yet for that particular program. Better yet–for the first time, my name appeared on a marquee! Lucas Thomas, Student Activity Board Chairman, was a wonderful host–even delivering the 12 green M&M’s I jokingly requested. Lake Land College is located in Mattoon, Illinois. You can check out some photos from the presentation below.
In 1978, the Simon Peter Nelson murders shocked Rockford, Illinois, then a thriving city of around 140,000 people. In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 7, while his wife was in a room with another man at the Downtown Ramada Inn in Milwaukee, Nelson brutally murdered his six sleeping children in their home on Camp Avenue. This crime is still whispered about today, but until now, no one has ever written a detailed account of the events on that fateful night and the days leading up to it.
I chronicle these tragic events, which took place between January 3 and Nelson’s arrest on January 7, 1978, in “A Long, Dark Night.” I wrote this article exclusively for Secret Rockford, an anthology of articles and short stories written by Rockfordians from all walks of life. “A Long, Dark Night” ended up being a touch over 11,100 words, with 82 footnotes.
While I was writing this, I couldn’t help but be struck by the senselessness of the crime. There are plenty of couples who have been cheated on and get divorced. Some of those divorces are pretty nasty, with one party or another losing everything. What would compel a man, in this circumstance, to murder his own children? What kind of a person would do such a thing, and why did it happen here in Rockford?
Maybe the answers to those questions will never be fully understood, but I did my best to write down every last detail I could find regarding this horrible crime. Maybe it will help us understand how something like this could happen.
It is available on Amazon.com and for Nook and Kindle e-readers.
My recent post at Mysterious Heartland, “Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Midwest,” was picked by WordPress editors to be featured on their “Freshly Pressed” page today, a distinction given to only the best blog posts on WordPress. What an honor to be selected for this distinction! Already, I’ve had over two dozen new website subscribers and about a dozen new comments. Hopefully there will be more good news like this in the future.
My recent post at Mysterious Heartland, “Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Midwest,” continues to gain steam, with over 107,530 views and counting since Monday. A variety of local newspapers and blogs all over the Midwest have picked up the story. Strangely, not a single media outlet in Illinois has done so — despite the fact that there are two Illinois colleges on the list. Where are you, Illinois media?
Here is a quick list of some of the coverage, with more to come:
- “We’ve got spirits, yes we do! Look at us, we’re number 2!” Ripon Press
- “Ghostly Roberta Hall lands Northwest campus in Top 10,” Maryville Daily Forum
- “St. Olaf Among Midwest’s ‘Most Haunted’ Campuses,” CBS Minnesota
- “Iowa State lands spot on most haunted colleges list,” DM Juice
- “Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Midwest,” NowThatsCollege.com
- “Minnesota college makes list of most haunted in the Midwest,” BringMetheNews
- “Haunt-hunting at Iowa State University: Are the ghost stories real?” DesMoines Register
- “Iowa State lands spot on most haunted colleges list,” Press-Citizen
- “Kenyon is #1 At Being Haunted!” The Thrill
- “St. Olaf Makes the Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Midwest,” NewsTastic
I didn’t think I would be able to surpass the traffic I received at Mysterious Heartland in December, but my latest top 10 list (and the first to feature locations from all over the Midwest) “Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Midwest” has exploded in popularity over the past several days, getting over 69,000 views since Monday. I also broke my record for most site views in one day – 44,109 on Tuesday, and today it looks like it might surpass even that. Needless to say, this is very exciting! My top 10 list is getting coverage from some local media, and a WordPress editor has picked it to be featured on their “fresh pressed” page in a few days!
Maureen Hoff from the Kenyon College blog The Thrill posted this funny article today: Kenyon is #1 At Being Haunted!
An article was recently released on the top ten most haunted colleges in the Midwest, and Kenyon crushed all competition, sliding smoothly into first. And if you didn’t read that article, or weren’t already told the moment you stepped onto campus, then you are getting this info here first. I’m the first person to tell you. It’s as if I knew that Kenyon was haunted before anyone else. And are we really that surprised that I was the Nancy Drew of this situation, and you’re the dance teacher who lost her music tapes? Too obscure of a reference? I drop it after the jump!
Read the entire post here, and stay tuned for more great news about MysteriousHeartland.com!