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The Devil in the Cornfield: Short Stories from the Summer Writing Contest

Weird Darkness host Darren Marlar reads the top entries from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference/Cult of Weird speculative fiction writing contest.

Over the summer Cult of Weird and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference teamed up to present a summer speculative fiction writing contest. Submissions had only three requirements: A 1500 word limit, a paranormal theme, and it had to be set in Wisconsin.

We received 40 amazing entries, the top 3 of which were read at the conference earlier this month. A recent episode of the podcast Weird Darkness, in which host Darren Marlar “presents stories of ghosts, demons, cryptids, unsolved, mysteries, aliens, and other things dark,” features the top 3 stories, as well as the two honorable mentions.

These stories are:

  • Beware the Bindlestiff by Carolyn Toms-Neary
  • Stopping Sirens by Cassie O’Rourke
  • Thinning the Herd by Eric Montag
  • The Fortune Teller of Rhinelander by Marlin Bressi
  • The Devil in the Cornfield by Zelia Edgar

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story for the contest!

via Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Recap of the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

A quick recap of the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference with appearances by Loren Coleman, Butch Patrick, Katrina Weidman, Linda S. Godfrey and more.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference was originally dreamed up last year by author Tea Krulos as a release party for his book Monster Hunters. Rather than take the spotlight, however, he decided to organize a celebration of the bizarre with authors, artists, vendors, filmmakers, ghost tours, and numerous experts in the fields of cryptozoology, folklore, paranormal investigation, and haunted places. Due to the success of last year’s event, Tea promised bigger and better in 2016…and he did not disappoint.

Related: The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference needs your help!

The conference was held this weekend at the University of Milwaukee Student Union with a packed vendor floor and two halls hosting panels and speakers throughout both Saturday and Sunday. The Cult of Weird table was perfectly positioned between Grave Digger Candles and J. Nathan Couch, author of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?

Butch Patrick, the actor who played Eddie Munster, was a last minute addition since he just happened to be in the area. I couldn’t resist picking up an autographed Johnny Lightning Dragula for my fledgling diecast hearse collection.

eddie-munster-dragula
The Munsters diecast Dragula autographed by Butch Patrick

Butch Patrick who played Eddie Munster
Me with Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster)

The first speaker I caught was Linda S. Godfrey, author of Monsters Among Us, American Monsters, and many more. She covered 25 years of investigation into eyewitness accounts of dogmen in the Midwest, a phenomena she first encountered in the late 1980s when she reported on the Beast of Bray Road sightings near Delavan, Wisconsin for a local newspaper.

Linda Godfrey speaking about sightings of dogmen in the Midwest
Linda Godfrey speaking about dogman sightings in the Midwest.

Later there was a Q&A session with Katrina Weidman from the Destination America series Paranormal Lockdown, where she talked about some of the most convincing evidence she has collected, as well as the upcoming Halloween special in which she and Nick Groff (formerly of Ghost Adventures) investigate the Black Monk House. That was followed by The Roswell Debate with Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’Connell. Both were involved in last year’s conference, but I didn’t have a chance to catch them this time around.

Loren Coleman
Me with Loren Coleman

The day culminated in a thoroughly fascinating presentation by International Museum of Cryptozoology founder Loren Coleman on the Minnesota Iceman, reports of Bigfoot abducting dogs and children, and the current clown hysteria as it relates to a long history of phantom clown sightings. It was Coleman’s first appearance in Milwaukee, providing the opportunity to have Terry Cullen get onstage and recount his early encounter with the Iceman.

Cullen was a zoology student in Milwaukee when he found the stinking, rotting corpse of a hairy hominid at Chicago’s International Livestock Exhibition and Fair in 1968. Of course, many great hoaxes have been perpetuated in dimly lit tents. Cullen said he always paid to get into those exhibits so he could learn what fakes look like. But the Iceman was different. He had the opportunity to examine the body better than anyone since, and remains convinced it was authentic.

For more on the Iceman read Neanderthal: The Strange Saga of the Minnesota Iceman by Bernard Heuvelmans. Coleman provided an afterword to this newly translate edition of one of the best books on the topic.

On a side note, when you have the opportunity to buy a plaster cast of a Bigfoot print from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite signed by Loren Coleman…you do it.

Bigfoot cast signed by Loren Coleman
Bigfoot cast from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite signed by Loren Coleman

Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends panel happened Sunday with Tea at the helm. J. Nathan Couch discussed the connection between goatman and Lover’s Lane legends. Valerie Kedrowski of the Steven’s Point Paranormal Club shed some light on roads with a ghostly reputation such as Paradise Road and Boy Scout Lane. Christina and I talked about the bizarre history of St. Nazianz and JFK Prep, as well as the circumstances surrounding the allegedly haunted cauldron believed to have been owned by Ed Gein. Tea went over some of the locations where the ghost of Al Capone are said to roam.

Minnesota Krampus

One of the defining moments of the afternoon was the Krampus parade, in which members of the Minnesota Krampus group stalked through the vendor hall in their traditional goat hide costumes with menacing hand-carved masks, flogging any unfortunate soul who happened to get in their way.

At the end of the day we had the pleasure of hearing the top three winners of the summer writing contest read their submissions. It was great meeting everyone and catching up with all the amazing folks we met last year.

UPDATE: Listen to the top 5 submission right here.

Vintage Haskelite mystic tray
Vintage 1940s Hasko Mystic Tray for sale from Steve and Kim of Kadywumpus

Artist Cait May
Artist Cait May. She had an amazing lake monster print I should have bought. See more of her work at www.caitmayart.com

Christina with one of the Minnesota Krampus
Christina with a Krampus

Zombeans by Donovan Scherer
Zombeans by author/illustrator Donovan Scherer

What would D.B. Cooper do? bumper sticker

Watch for more photos from the conference at www.milwaukeeparacon.com

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Sunday Schedule

Wisconsin urban legends, Bachelors Grove Cemetery, haunted road trip and more! Here’s what’s going on today, October 16th at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016 Sunday schedule

The second and final day of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference gets spooky with Urusla Bielski on the haunted Bachelors Grove Cemetery, Wisconsin lake monsters with Chad Lewis, Minnesota Krampus, ghostly gadgets, Haunted Road Trip panel, the Cult of Weird panel on Wisconsin urban legends, and much more.

Here’s the schedule for today:

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Day 2

@ UWM Student Union (2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.)

UWM Ballroom East: Vendor Floor open 10:00am-4:00pm

Wisconsin Room

11:00-11:45am: Ursula Bielski, “Haunted Bachelors Grove”

12-12:45pm: Chad Lewis, “Sea Serpents of Wisconsin: Monsters in the Lakes, Rivers, and Streams”

2:00-2:45pm: Elizabeth Saint, “Ghostly Gadgets: Engineering the Paranormal”

3:00-3:45pm: Ghost Story Open Mic with hosts Deadgar’s Dark Coffin Classics. Sign up at the ticket/ registration table and get a time slot to tell your own supernatural story!

4:00-4:45pm: Chase Kloetzke, “Admissible: Is the Burden of Proof Enough?”

UWM Ballroom West

12:00-12:45pm: “Haunted Road Trip,” moderated by Mike Huberty (See You on the Other Side podcast, Minneapolis Ghost Tour), w/ Mike Hoke (Cedarburg Ghost & Dark History Walking Tours), Lisa Von Buskirk (Madison Ghost Tour), Kathi Kresol (Haunted Rockford)

Wisconsin's wildest urban legends at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference
Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends panel

1:00-1:45: “Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends,” presented by Cult of Weird. Moderated by Tea Krulos (author, Monster Hunters) w/ Charlie Hintz and Christina Rickman (Cult of Weird), J. Nathan Couch (author, Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?), and Valerie Kedrowski (Stevens Point Paranormal Club).

2:00-2:45pm: “Yow! My Business is Haunted!” moderated by Allison Jornlin, w/ Tom Carr (Brumder Mansion), Dawn Scher-Thomae (Milwaukee Public Museum), and Jesus Enrique Nañez (Modjeska Theater)

3:00-3:45pm: Feral House presents: Minnesota Krampus, Krampus parade and “Celebrating Krampusnacht” presentation

4:00-4:30pm: Reading by winners of the Cult of Weird and Milwaukee Paranormal Conference short speculative fiction contest.

Special appearance: Back Roads Lore meet and greet, 2-3:30pm, Spaights Plaza (behind the Student Union)

Workshops (Room 191)

12:00-12:45pm: Nick Roesler, “Examining UFO Photos”

1:00-1:45: Mary Marshall, “Ghosts and Spirit Entities”

2:00-2:45pm: luna, ”Numerology 101?

3:00-3:45pm: Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, “Paranormal Tech: Why do we use it and how it works: EMF baseline reading tutorial”

Star Paths Special Screening @ The Underground Collaborative (161 W. Wisconsin Ave., basement level in the Plankinton building of the Grand Ave. Mall) 3pm

Ron HS Schaefer will be screening the first 3 episodes of his Star Paths TV series, a series that provides information on energy work, magical practices, Tarot, Astrology, and a number of other related subjects. Admission $4.

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Film Festival @ The Underground Collaborative (161 W. Wisconsin Ave., basement level in the Plankinton building of the Grand Ave. Mall) 5pm

More info at MilwaukeeParaCon.com

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Saturday Schedule

Katrina Weidman, Loren Coleman, Butch Patrick, and more! Here’s what’s going on today, October 15th at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016 Saturday schedule

The first day of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference features a Q&A with Paranormal Lockdown star Katrina Weidman, cryptozoology expert Loren Coleman on the Minnesota Iceman, and much more. Afterwards, be sure to check out The Raven’s Masquerade Ball costume contest and performances by Dead Man’s Carnival, Gnarrenschiff and Tamarind Tribal Belly Dance, Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theater and others.

Cult of Weird will be there all day. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates throughout the day, and be sure to find us in the vendor hall and say hi! We have candy…

Here’s the schedule for the day:

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Day 1

@ University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union (2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.)

UWM Ballroom East: Vendor floor open 10:00am-5:00pm

Wisconsin Room

11:00-11:45am: Linda S. Godfrey, “Midwest Manwolves: 24 Years on the Trail”

12:00-12:45pm: Allison Jornlin, “Milwaukee Forteana Vol. II”

1:00-1:45pm: Mary Marshall, “Paranormal Entanglement”

Paranormal Lockdown star Katrina Weidman at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference
Katrina Weidman, star of Paranormal Lockdown

2:15-3:00pm: Shepherd Express presents “Q & A with Katrina Weidman of Paranormal Lockdown,” special presentation with Mike Huberty and Wendy Lynn Staats from See You On The Other Side podcast, who will talk with Katrina Weidman, star of Paranormal Lockdown and Paranormal State. Includes audience Q & A and autograph session– get an autographed photo for $20!

3:30-4:45pm: The Roswell Debate with Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’Connell

5-6pm: Keynote: Loren Coleman, “The Minnesota Iceman: the Milwaukee Connection and More”

Loren Coleman at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference
Loren Coleman, founder of the International Cryptozoology Museum

UWM Ballroom West

12:00-12:45pm: “Best UFO Reports 2016,” moderated by Nick Roesler, w/ Chase Kloetzke (MUFON) and Kevin Malek (UFO Wisconsin Research Team). Supporting sponsor: KGRA radio

1:00-1:45pm: Celeste Contreras, “Celebrating Dia de los Muertos”

2:00-2:45pm: Kristan T. Harris, “The Hidden History of Giants”

3:00-3:45pm: “Searching for Wisconsin’s Sasquatch,” moderated by Sanjay Singhal (Beyond the Forest radio), w/ Jay Bachochin (WPI Hunts the Truth), Linda S. Godfrey, Larry and Jen Dopke (WI- Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization)

Worshops (Room 191)

12:15-1:00pm: Brew City Paranormal, “Paranormal Investigating: NOT as seen on TV”

1:15-2:00pm: Ron Schaefer, “Dream Interpretation”

2:15- 3:00pm: Society for Anomalous Studies, “Historical Hauntings: Supporting Historical Properties through the Paranormal”

3:15-4:00pm: Dark Star Ministry, “Ouija and Tarot: Occult Tools and the Paranormal”

Third Ward Walking Tour, presented by Milwaukee Ghosts- Tours and Investigations. Meets outside Milwaukee Public Market, 7:30pm.

The Raven’s Masquerade Ball @ Irish Cultural and Heritage Center (2133 W.Wisconsin Ave.) 8pm.

More info at MilwaukeeParaCon.com

Submit Your Short Story to the Summer Paranormal Writing Contest

Cult of Weird and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference have joined forces to host a summer speculative fiction writing contest.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference summer writing contest

You know what the longest, most grueling and excruciating day of the year means, right? Yes, it’s summer solstice, pagan rituals, and the launch of the speculative fiction writing contest hosted by Cult of Weird and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference! We’ve teamed up to unearth the nightmares lurking in your twisted mind through the art of the short story. Before you start exorcising those demons, though, there are a few things you need to know.

The first place winner will receive a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference VIP Pass, a prize pack of cool stuff from conference vendors and sponsors (including Cult of Weird) and their story published in the conference program. Second and Third place winners will both receive Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2-Day Super Passes, a prize pack, and will have their stories published on the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference website.

All three placing winners will be invited to read their stories at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference on October 15-16 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union.

Ready to put your pen to paper and make our skin crawl?

Here are the contest rules:

  • The story needs to incorporate a paranormal theme somehow. Should fall somewhere in the realm of one of these genres: horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery.
  • The story setting needs to be Wisconsin, but it does not need to be a contemporary setting.
  • The story should be no longer than 1500 words. You can submit previously published pieces if they fit the guidelines.
  • Deadline is September 1 at Midnight.
  • Submit stories as word docs to: milwaukeeparacon@gmail.com
  • Winners will be announced on Sept 15th. Judging will be done by Cult of Weird, Furrow (a UWM literary organization and magazine) and creative writing staff from UW-Washington County.

So get out your quill and ink and start conjuring something mystifying.

For more Milwaukee Paranormal Conference news, guest speakers, schedule of events, tickets and more, go to www.milwaukeeparacon.com

UPDATE: Listen to the top 5 stories right here.