Tales of Growing Up on Haunted Land with Author Dan Coglan

Did you know that I grew up on a haunted property?  True story.  When I was in third grade, my family moved out into the country, to an acreage thirty miles south of Iowa City, Iowa. 

The place was really run down, crowded with decade’s worth of junk that had probably been worth something once but had fallen into ruin due to time and neglect.  This made the property a gigantic project for my parents to fix up, but a wondrous haven to play in for my little brother and me.

One night we camped out.  We had an old army surplus two person pup tent that we set up a hundred yards away from the house, in order to “escape civilization.”  Around midnight, our dad came out and told us to be quiet; we were making too much noise and he and mom couldn’t sleep.

He went back inside, and we settled down to sleep.  An hour later, he came storming back out, and let us have it for being too noisy, and being inconsiderate, since they had to work the next day.  Our protests of being asleep and therefore quiet fell on deaf ears.  He knew what he had heard.  After warning us once again to be quiet, he went back inside.

My brother and I were too upset to go back to bed, so we sat up, sticking our feet out the open front of our tent, and watched the night sky.  After a while, we became aware of a clanking sound, like the links on a heavy chain being dragged across the ground.

We looked to the east, across the field and in the direction of the farm pond.  There was a light.  About five feet off of the ground was a lantern, moving slowly across the field.  The clanking noises came from where the light was.  About the time that we stood up and started to go and see what was out in the field, we heard a voice, calling out.  The light was lifted higher in the air, and for the briefest instant, we could see a shape, with a spectral arm, holding the lantern up.  

Instead of venturing into the field to check out the light, my brother and I bolted for the house, running right into my dad, who was coming out to investigate the noises again.

After hearing our story, he told us that the original owner of the farm had gone out in a snowstorm to try and recover a calf that had wandered off and gotten lost.  The old man had gotten lost as well, and froze to death out in the field.

To this day, I don’t know if that story is true, and we saw his ghost, or whether my dad was pulling our collective leg, and we just imagined everything.

Invasion of the Undead
Death Stalker Chronicles 
Book One
Samurai Dan Coglan

Genre: Horror
Publisher: L’Oste Vineyard Press
Date of Publication: 5-28-2021
ISBN: 978-1-7353896-7-7
Number of pages: 242
Word Count: 60500

Book Description:  

Former Marine Lance Corporal Chase Brooks fought the enemy in Afghanistan and lost his unit. 

Now back in America, he fights to keep from losing his mind, as he is repeatedly attacked by the undead that he believes wiped out his men overseas. 

Convinced that what he saw over there was real, he goes to war to wipe out the undead on American soil.

#samuaraidancoglanbooks #invasionoftheundead #deathstalkerchronicles #lostevineyardpress #horror #zombies #horrorbook #zombiebook


“Get those damn charges set, and let’s get out of here,” I growled into my mic.  Shadows moved around me, and a turbaned face appeared out of the murky darkness.  I shot the onrushing insurgent twice and looked around for more.

“Come on, come on, come on,” I muttered.  “We’re past time for evac.  Move your slow asses!” Lt. Rodriquez was suddenly at my side, scowling.  “We’re doing the best we can, Corporal.  Hold on to your hat.”

“Charges set, Lieutenant,” Stevens called out.  “That makes all four; we can blow this popsicle stand!”

“About damn time,” I snapped.  “There are hostiles everywhere.  What the hell is this place, anyway?”

McGavin scoffed.  “It’s a temple, Brooks.  Remember? We had a briefing and everything.”

“Screw you,” I told him.  “This ain’t like no temple that I’ve ever seen.  And it smells like a fucking crypt.”

“No lie,” my buddy, Lance Corporal Jeremy Stevens, chimed in.  

“Marines,” Rodriquez barked.  “Let’s go.”

I led us back out, the six of us in tight formation.  Stevens was on my left flank; Sgt. Bates was on my right, and the Lieutenant was in the middle with the beady-eyed “guide” that the Colonel had stuck us with.  McGavin brought up the rear.

Dead bodies were everywhere; our ingress had come with a high body count.  I ignored them.

Two tours had made me immune to corpses. I had bigger priorities.

There was a commotion in front of us; heard but not seen.  Voices cried out in excitement.  We froze.

Our position was suddenly hit with massive spotlights.  “We’ve been cut off! Break left!” Rodriquez yelled as gunfire erupted all around us.  We returned fire, hot and heavy.
Being in front has its disadvantages.  I got hit three times, twice in the chest and once in the leg.

My vest took the brunt of the two to the chest, but the leg shot really sucked.  I went down but staggered back to my feet and kept fighting.

Stevens took over point; Lt. Rodriquez slid over to his spot and put me in the middle with the guide, who looked scared out of his mind.  I didn’t blame him.   

We raced through the gloom, moving downhill but not having a choice in the matter.  McGavin took a round to the lower back and went down.  I shouted, and the unit took up positions around our fallen comrade.  

We created a semi-circle facing back the way we’d come, weapons up and ready.  There wasn’t long to wait.  The horde was on us quickly, the heavy sound of their AK-47s threatening to overwhelm the sharper cracks of our M-4s.  

It was over in less than sixty seconds, and to my amazement, we were still standing.  There were bodies all around us, and the air was thick with the smell of cordite.  Clouds of smoke from the gunfire obscured our lights even further.  
It was like being in hell, I thought, sweeping the area with my carbine.  Something flashed in my light, and I swung back.

There was a figure standing at the edge of the light.  It couldn’t be a friendly, so I shot at it.  I missed, and it ducked behind a pile of bodies.  The Lieutenant motioned, and Stevens and I went out to get whoever it was.  

I’d taken maybe three steps when the figure reappeared, much closer.  I could tell it was a man, head and neck wrapped in a shemagh.  One arm was holding a bundle, and the other was outstretched toward the ceiling.  

His eyes were glowing red.  I blinked.  His eyes really were glowing; it wasn’t goggles or an optical illusion.  Glowing or not, I knew what my job was.  I put that head with glowing eyes in my sights and prepared to pull the trigger.

Our guide, who’d been useless and paranoid the entire mission, started screaming and babbling in complete gibberish.  The only part that I could make out was something about Manziel or manzazu or some such nonsense, but his outburst caught me off guard, and I missed my shot.
Suddenly there was movement all around us.  The bodies of the enemy combatants were stirring.  Impossibly, they were staggering to their feet.  All around us, corpses were rising from the floor, their eyes shining a baleful crimson.

“What the fuck?” Stevens shouted.  “This ain’t happening, man.”  

I put a three-round burst into the chest of the corpse nearest me and blew out his heart.  It didn’t seem to affect him at all; he just kept shuffling toward me, his arms reaching out.  I shot him again, this time doing the Mozambique technique that had been drilled into all Marines.  The two shots to the body didn’t do anything, but the follow-up round to the head dropped it.
I could hear my unit screaming, cursing, and shooting the reanimated dead bodies all around me.

 They were coming at us from every direction.  

We tightened our circle, trying to cover each other as we changed mags and shifted targets.  It didn’t matter; they overwhelmed us. There were just too many of them, and we couldn’t put them down fast enough.

I watched in horror as my best friend, Jeremy Stevens, was pulled down by a mob of freaking zombies and torn apart.  Behind me, Lt. Rodriquez screamed, and then his voice trailed off into a muffled gurgle, and I knew he was gone, too.

My mag ran dry, and I reached for another, determined to keep fighting.  My fingers closed on air.  I was out.  The undead pressed in, their hands clawing for me.  I swung the empty rifle like a club, trying to clear a space.

The undead mob pulled the rifle from my hands, so I drew my Colt 1911 handgun.  It was a fine weapon, and I was good with it, but it only held eight rounds.  Those eight rounds went quickly.

 When the pistol was empty, all sounds of gunfire ceased.

I was the last of the unit standing.  The zombies surrounded me.  To my right, two of the obscene things were eating my Sergeant.  Behind them, more were tearing our guide to pieces.
I spun to my left and saw what was left of Stevens.  Hands fastened onto my vest, and I twisted away.  More grabbed hold of my legs, and I went down.  

The zombies crowded around me.  Behind them, looking on, was the man with the glowing eyes, triumph on his face.  He cackled with glee.

In desperation, I felt around for anything to use as a weapon.  My hands reached above my head and found the remains of the Lieutenant.  His head had been ripped off.  My hands shifted lower and found the detonator on his belt for the explosive packages that we’d set.

I yanked it free and held it up.  The zombies were all over me, and their leader was looking down at me, sneering.

“Fuck you,” I screamed and pushed the button.  There was a distant rumble, a pressure wave, and then the world collapsed on me.

About the Author:

Dan Coglan, A.K.A. “Samurai Dan” is the acknowledged masters of marital… er, martial mayhem.  Dan travels the civilized portions of the U.S., bringing his unique show to curious and horrified audiences alike.

In addition to their high-energy, mostly safe stage shows (where razor-sharp blades and barbs fly),  Dan teaches historical and hysterical panels on the way of the warrior.  Offering a wide range of lectures and interactive workshops, Dan provides joy and laughs wherever he goes. 

Due to a supreme lack of filter, Dan also performs standup comedy in censored and uncensored settings.  A storyteller at heart, Dan is releasing his first book in his Deathstalker Chronicle Series:  Invasion of the Undead.

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Half-O-Ween Celebration Giveaway - Win a Signed Copy of Pumpkins and Party Themes & the Nevermore Pumpkin Featured in the Book

Last year Halloween sucked. I sat at home totally bummed out. I didn't even dress up. :-(

This year we need to rock it. We need to get vaccines, mask up, and kick COVID to the curb so we can party this Halloween.

We're currently at the Halfway to Halloween point and so many people are doing great. 

So it's time to start Halloween planning.

And I have a fabulous book for you that can help you create fun party themes with matching pumpkins.

And today you have the chance to win a signed copy and one of the pumpkins featured in the book, the Nevermore pumpkin from the Edgar Allan Poe theme!

All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

50 DIY Designs to Bring Your Halloween Extravaganza to Life
By Roxanne Rhoads

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse 
Release Date: August 25, 2020
ISBN-10: 1510751165
ISBN-13: 978-1510751163

Bring your Halloween party theme to life with these quick tips and tricks!

Pumpkins and Party Themes features ten unique party themes with five do-it-yourself pumpkin designs for each theme. The pumpkin projects have a variety of decorating ideas that include carving, painting, and mixed media craftiness and easy-to-follow steps on each creation. Author Roxanne Rhoads also includes quick ideas on how to bring the theme to life through d├ęcor, costumes, and activities. These fun party themes range from gothic elegance to Edgar Allan Poe, under the sea, let's get literary, and more!

With beautiful full-color images to illustrate the tools needed, steps to follow, and final products, this book makes for the perfect gift for Halloween enthusiasts and party hosts alike!

Amazon      IndieBound      BN      Kobo     Chapters     

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Witchin Wednesday - Coloring Book of Shadows: Witch Life

Witch Life is probably my favorite Amy Cesari book. 

I love all the info and tidbits of witchy information along with the gorgeous illustrations. 
There's also plenty of room for writing down your own spells, recipes, and witchy details.

Want to make more magic happen in your daily life? 

A different kind of spellbook, Witch Life is a visual canvas to explore the rhythms and rituals of the everyday.

With original illustrations to color, useful spells to try, and lots of witchy ideas and correspondences to explore… take your witchcraft to the next level and see what kind of magic you have, just waiting to be unlocked!

• Kitchen Witchcraft
• Altar and Spellcraft
• Green Witchcraft and Garden
• Divination & Tarot
• All original art by Author and Illustrator Amy Cesari
• Over 80 pages of coloring, framed notes, spells, correspondences, and magical things to do

Find yourself in the creative, empowering world of your own magical life!


What's Included:
• Lots of witchy cabinets and shelves to color
• Spell to Invoke Your Power
• Kitchen Witchcraft spells, notes, and coloring pages
• Spell to Bless Your Kitchen
• Cooking With Magical Flair
• Kitchen Correspondences
• Broom and Besom Lore & Spellcraft

• Altar & Sacred Space spells, notes, and coloring pages
• Consecration Spell
• Doorway Magical Lore & Spellcraft
• Spell to Create Tranquility
• Ritual Bath Art
• Spell Box to Manifest Your Dreams
• Witch Jars and Bottles
• Charms, Talismans, and Amulets

• Green Witchcraft spells, notes, and coloring pages
• Creating a Green Indoor Altar
• Witch's Garden Art
• Garden Spells for Decay and New Growth
• Garden Charms and Chimes
• "Moon Gardening" Moon Phase Chart
• A couple of super cute Garden Gnomes

• Herbal Magic spells, notes, and coloring pages
• Incense Spell for Clarity of Vision
• Essential Oils to Refocus and Empower Change
• Witchy Tea Drinking Rituals
• Magical Tea Correspondences
• Divination spells, notes, and coloring pages
• Tarot Spread for Past, Present, and Future
• Tarot Spread for Elemental Guidance
• Tarot journal notes and illustrations to write your own spreads
• Tasseography (tea leaf reading!) information
• Divination Tea: Herbs to Enhance Your Intuition
• A Spirit Board to color

• Note pages for each subject

... And more!

Images from  coloringbookofhsadows.com 

Honoring My Ancestors - My Uncle Tommy

My mother passed away in February and I've been cleaning out her house.

I have found so many old photos and family history while going through things. I've been posting old family photos on Insta and many have commented and are really enjoying the old photos. And to be honest sharing details about those I have lost is helping with my grief.

So I have decided to create blog posts with more details. You might be asking - What do old family photos have to do with Halloween?

Well, Halloween, Samhain, was originally a time to honor the dead. A time to share our plane of existence with them once again. 

For Samhain, Day of the Dead, and many other death holidays around the world there are customs and rituals that honor the ancestors. 

Now I'm going to have a feature that honors mine.

I'll start with the one that has some historical significance.

The man on the right in this top photo (no hat) is my Uncle Tommy Rhoads. He was my dad's little brother. I never met him. His plane went down and disappeared 26 years before I was born.

On Jan 26, 1950, his plane disappeared and has never been found. Tommy was only 21 years old.

The Douglas C-54 Skymaster disappeared on its way from Alaska to Montana. It's a mystery, no trace of this plane has ever been found. 

Countless missions have gone out in search of any remnants of the plane, but it seems as though this plane disappeared without a trace.

An organization called Operation Mike was founded to increase awareness and launch new search efforts so at some point families could have closure. 

A documentary film has been created and will soon be released called Skymaster Down.

Here's a strange little sidebar to this story- my great aunt Hattie was psychic. She swore that Tommy lived through that plane's disappearance. That she heard him telling her he was scared when the plane went down. And later when he was being held captive...in Russia.

The plane left Alaska and was last heard of over the Yukon territory. Could it have somehow got turned around and ended up in Russia? 

Stranger things have happened. It could be why they have never found a single trace of that plane. Could the people on that plane had been turned into Russian spies? 

Sounds like a great plot for a novel. 

Sounds better than the theory the History Channel offered when the TV show Missing in Alaska researched the plane's disappearance and concluded it was due to aliens or a "space-time vortex".

30 years after Tommy's plane went down my father died in 1980. 

At my father's funeral, there were flowers from Tommy Rhoads. There were no other Tommys in our family, no one knew who this "Tommy" could be.

Could the flowers have been from my uncle? If so, why didn't he ever come home? 

Another random factoid- my RoxanneRhoads.com website gets heavy viewing traffic from Russia. 

Witchin Wednesday- Coloring Book of Shadows: Tarot Journal

Here's another fabulous book by Amy Cesari. 

Are you a Tarot beginner? 

This book will help take your Tarot readings to the next level. 

This book has helped me so much. I've always been more into my Oracle cards because memorizing the meanings of a gazillion Tarot cards was overwhelming. But the Tarot Journal has helped me really connect with the cards. 

Want to find more magic and inspiration in your tarot cards?

Explore richly illustrated note pages, tarot spreads, spells, and much more as you follow your own intuitive path in this enchanting tarot journal.

With over 100 pages of original illustrations to color, versatile dot-grid note pages, and plenty of ideas to get started or continue your practice, this book is a creative canvas for you to inspire and enliven your tarot card readings.- 

Over 100 pages of original illustrations to color

- Over 60 illustrated note pages with dot-grid (0.5 cm, lightly printed)
- Concise beginner’s instructions on how to read your tarot cards
- 10 pages of tarot spreads and ritual ideas
- Journaling prompts and ideas on how to create your own tarot spreads
- Tarot card keyword “quick reference” pages
- Illustrations are printed on one side of the page (with light dot-grid on the back)
- A handy 7”x10” journal sizeLet your magic unfold as you write, color, create, and follow your intuition in this unique tarot journal.


Happy International Bat Appreciation Day #BatAppreciationDay


Check out some of my batty creations at The Bewitching Cauldron

And enjoy 10% off with code Halfway2Halloween

Silver Bat on Red Jeweled Silver Mirror Compact 

Gothic Silver Bat Purple Jeweled Compact 

Gothic Black Bats and Red Jeweled Compact 

Gothic Red and Black Coffin Shadowbox 

The Best Witchy Planner Ever- Coloring Book of Shadows Planner by Amy Cesari #WitchinWednesday


I love my Coloring Book of Shadows Planner by Amy Cesari. 

It has everything I need in a planner including all the witchy info I need on hand. Every day it lists the moon phase, times, and astrological sign. This makes it super easy for spell and ritual work. No guessing, no checking charts, and various sources. It is all in one place.

And it has space for everything so I can keep my real life and witch life together. 

Bonus if you love to color, every page gorgeous illustrations you can color. Which isn't my thing but I know some find coloring to be meditative. 

At the beginning of each month it has a full two-page calendar layout. Then each day has space to write down specifics. And there are pages at the end of each month to keep notes. 

The images below are from my 2020 planner, which, unfortunately, didn't get much use thanks to COVID.

If you do invest in the planner for next year, I suggest getting the spiral bound. Last year I did and loved it. This year my planner was a gift and just a regular paperback. For a planner, the spiral is a must have. 

Make Your Year Magical! ♥

Harness the power of the seasons, the moon, the sun, and yourself as you expand your horizons and create an extraordinary year.

The Planner for a Magical 2021 shows you ways to explore your inner power and ideas to inspire your spirit every day. Whether you color the illustrations or not, you'll discover new insights about yourself and your magic through each month, sabbat, and season.

The Planner for a Magical 2021 includes:

•Illustrated spells, rituals, and simple "everyday" practical magic
• Monthly calendars and weekly planner pages with astrological and moon phase information
• A concise "Beginner's Guide" to witchcraft, astrology, and spellcastingLined note space to plan your magical future or reflect back on what's passed
• Transform your life and find yourself on the empowering journey of your own magical path.


• Paperback with Standard 55# Paper
• For use with colored pencils, gel pens, & ballpoint pens only.
• Markers or watercolors are NOT recommended•
• Printed on both sides of the page
• Handy 6×9″ size