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A dark horror anthology of spooky and unsettling ghost stories from magician William Pack, Jean Rabe, Sarah Hans, and many others.
A dark horror anthology of spooky and unsettling ghost stories from magician William Pack, Jean Rabe, Sarah Hans, and many others.
128 backers pledged $1,902 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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What makes ghost stories give readers shivers more than any other stories? After all, vampire and werewolf and monster tales can be plenty creepy, too. Perhaps it's because we always know, deep in the back of our subconscious, that vampires and werewolves and monsters aren't real. They're fiction. But, the same isn't true for ghost stories. Almost every culture believes in ghosts and has myths and tales about them. Almost everyone has had, or personally knows someone who has had, a ghostly or supernatural experience. We believe in ghosts, so we believe in ghost stories. And that makes it so much harder to go to sleep after we've read what those familiar spirits may be up to in the midst of deepest night in the woods, down the street, and in our own homes.

Magician and story-teller William Pack conceived of Familiar Spirits as an outgrowth and supplement to his spell-binding performances of magic and ghostly tales. Connecting with Writer on Demand Donald J. Bingle, they have invited a specially selected group of extremely talented writers to craft short tales and vivid manifestations to unsettle, spook, terrify, and haunt you in your dreams and in brightest day.

Join with these authors to bring Familiar Spirits to life ... or, perhaps, unholy afterlife from beyond the grave. Death is only the beginning for a familiar spirit, but it may be the end for those it seeks out on the mortal plane.

Familiar Spirits may contain tales of the unknown, but its publisher, editor, and authors are all known for quality story-telling. The only thing that should disturb you, as a potential backer, are the chilling tales of horror contained in the pages of this anthology, not the uncertainties and frustrations associated with anthologies from unknown entities and amateur writers.

Familiar Spirits will be available in ebook and print form, with an audio version available if certain funding requirements are met. The stories are already written, the editing and formatting already in progress. All you need to do is pledge and steel yourself for the disquieting terror of the stories, themselves.

Backer levels encourage early participation, but provide all backers with great value. Grab a package of other products from the publisher, editor, and featured writers, or add-on specific collections and books to make this Kickstarter an even better bargain. The post-Kickstarter suggested retail price of the print version of Familiar Spirits will be $19.95.

Digital rewards and ebooks can be sent to any valid email address which accepts attachments. All ebook files in this Kickstarter are DRM free.

All reward levels for printed materials include free shipping to the U.S. only.

Track the progress of Familiar Spirits on Kicktraq
Track the progress of Familiar Spirits on Kicktraq

Stretch Goals

$1350: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Donald J. Bingle's unsettling Alaskan cruise tale Running Free: A Tale Inspired by Patsy Ann.

$1500: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Donald J. Bingle's story Knowing She Would.

NEW $1650: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Danielle Ackley-McPhail's story Ghosts on the Battlefield.

$1750: A bonus story, "The Hut," will be added to the collection from Cathy Kern.

NEW $1875: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Crimson Life/Crimson Death, Donald J. Bingle's collection of demon-hunting tales from the pages of The Crimson Pact anthologies. (This used to be the $2500 stretch goal.)

$2000: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Worms by J.E. Mooney.

$2250: A bonus story, "Onyateh," will be added to the collection from Daniel ("Doc") Myers.

Revised $2500: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Ratfish by Buck Hanno. (This used to be the $3500 stretch goal.)

$2750: Payments to authors will be increased $50 per story.

$3000: A bonus story will be added to the collection from Steven Saus.

NEW $3500: All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital copy of Donald J. Bingle's tale: Gentlemanly Horrors of Mine Alone.

$4000 All backers at $3 and above will receive a digital MP3 file of William Pack reading his tale Stepping Into October from Familiar Spirits.

$4500: Payments to authors will be increased $50 per story.

$5500: An audio version of Familiar Spirits will be recorded and all backers at $3 and above will receive a digital MP3 file of the audio version.

$6500: Payments to authors will be increased $50 per story.

$8000: Black and white interior artwork will be added to Familiar Spirits.

$9000: Payments to authors will be increased $50 per story.

Add-Ons: 

The following books and story collections are available to backers. Just increase your pledge at the reward level you have chosen by the applicable amount and, when your backer survey comes, let us know which add-ons you have chosen for your additional pledge:

Books by William Pack

The Essential Houdini: $20 (trade paperback)

The Essential Great Chicago Fire: $20 (trade paperback)

The Essential P.T. Barnum: $20 (trade paperback)

The Essential Edgar Alan Poe: $20 (trade paperback)

Books by Donald J. Bingle:

Forced Conversion: $20 (hardback); $5 ebook 

GREENSWORD: $20 (hardback); $5 ebook

Net Impact: $15 (trade paperback); $5 ebook

Frame Shop: $15 (trade paperback); $5 ebook

About Featured Writers

 William Pack

Magician and Storyteller, William Pack
Magician and Storyteller, William Pack

Born and raised on the Southwest side of Chicago, William Pack got his first job in a magic shop at the age of 11 and he has been perfecting his trade ever since. He is a graduate of the Chavez College of Manual Dexterity and Prestidigitation, an award winning professional magician and storyteller, Victorian séance reenactor, former card cheat, ex-casino surveillance, occasional author, world-renowned magic historian, and magic consultant for the movie Ali, starring Will Smith. The legends of his Great Aunt Bernice and the ghosts he inherited from her have appeared in his modern day spook shows, Familiar Spirits, The Haunting, and City of Ghosts. Further information on William can be found at: williampack.com.

Jean Rabe

Jean Rabe has written thirty-three novels and more than seventy short stories in the military, urban fantasy, mystery, horror, western, and contemporary genres. Her latest novels are Pockets of Darkness, The Love-Haight Case Files (co-authored with Donald J. Bingle), and The Cauldron (co-authored with Gene DeWeese). She has also co-authored books with Andre Norton, F. Lee Bailey, and John Helfers, as well as written tie-in novels for Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's world of Dragonlance. You can find out more about her at http://www.jeanrabe.com.

Sarah Hans

Sarah Hans is an award-winning editor, author, and teacher. Sarah's short stories have appeared in about a dozen publications, but she's best known for her multicultural steampunk anthology Steampunk World, which appeared on io9, Boing Boing, Entertainment Weekly Online, and Humble Bundle. The anthology also won the 2015 Steampunk Chronicle Reader's Choice Award for Best Fiction. You can find Sarah floating in the aether above Columbus, Ohio or online at http://sarahhans.com.

About the Other Story Authors

Dolores Whitt Becker

Dolores Becker was born and raised in Wisconsin and settled in Batavia, Illinois after a couple of decades of more or less aimless wandering. In addition to writing, she has been a music student, an artists’ model and an actor, while occasionally holding a real job too dull to mention. When she was hired by the public library, she finally knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. She was thirty-four at the time. She has been married and divorced, had two children and lost one of them. Her first professional sale was to the first issue of Mountainland Magazine, which folded shortly thereafter; however, a copy can be checked out from the Batavia Public Library. She is currently a member of the Fox Valley Writers Group, which publishes an annual anthology entitled Fox Tales.

Lynne Handy

Lynne Handy is a member of the St. Charles Writers Group, Fox Valley Writers Group, Chicago Writer’s Association, Kentucky State Poetry Society, and Sisters in Crime. In 2013, she self-published a novel, In the Time of Peacocks, and her work has been published in Clementine Poetry Journal, Memoir Journal, Lark’s Fiction Magazine, and Pegasus. A retired library director, she lives in North Aurora, Illinois, where she enjoys nature, and writes poems and short stories. Visit her website: http://lynnehandy.com/.

Kate Johnson

Kate Johnson combines humor, feeling and misadventure in her work, pulling it together with quirky characters who don’t or won’t fit into their world. Her four novels have just been released on Amazon: The young adult romance Aly & Abe; the two-book family comedy Learning to Read and Reading between the Lines; and the adult humor murder-mystery, Skip Tracer, Heart Breaker. “The New Girl” is based on her experiences long ago working in an old photo shop. Her own ending, thankfully, was less spectacular. This is her first published ghost story; she scared her pants off writing it. She lives in St. Charles with her long-suffering husband and their three clever teen-agers, barking dogs and beleaguered cat. Reach her at: katj09@comcast.net

T.S. Rhodes

T.S. Rhodes is one of the web's foremost experts on pirates, writing The Pirate Empire blog at http://www.thepirateempire.blogspot.com/, as well as authoring the heavily-researched, but fictional series of books also called The Pirate Empire, including Scarlet Sails, Bloody Seas, and Gentlemen and Fortune.

Wren Roberts

Wren Roberts named herself and ran away from home at fifteen to pursue writing and filmmaking. Her written work has previously been featured in The Interlochen Review, The Minetta Review, and on off-off-Broadway. She once won a reality show and views that as one of the stranger things that's happened. She currently lives with three naughty kittens and a naughty Russian outside Chicago. She can be found on twitter as @gardsmyg or at her website: wrenroberts.com.

Melanie Waghorne

Melanie Waghorne is a twenty-nine year old author living in Gravesend, UK with her fiancé and Ripley the dog, an animal much shyer than her alien exterminating name-sake!. She is a writer with a caustic sense of humour, twisted imagination and a portfolio of paranormal, ghostly, gore, sci-fi, monster, and bizarro short fiction. She has also started work on her first full length horror novel. She completed a BA Hons in Creative Writing and English Literature and has partaken in short courses and writers' groups since. In her spare time she enjoys movies, bourbon and heavy metal. Follow her at www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieWaghorne.

Ric Waters

Ric Waters is a writer and photographer based in Aurora, Illinois. He is also the author of "Out of the Darkness," a short science-fiction story which appeared in Foxtales 3, an anthology of work by members of the Fox Valley Writers Group. The cover art of the same publication is a photo Ric took. He has stories pending publication for the organization's fourth anthology Foxtales 4, due out in late 2015. Ric's writings are primarily science fiction, historical fiction, and suspense. He has penned a short series of novellas based on the fictional sci-fi program "Inspector Spacetime," available for reading at btvbooks.wordpress.com. A couple of his flash-fiction stories may be found at fewerthan500.com.

New: Cathy Kern's story, "The Hut," has been added.
New: Cathy Kern's story, "The Hut," has been added.

As a child, Cathy Kern fell asleep listening to the distant sounds of trucks passing through Illinois summer nights. Wanderlust and imagining other people’s stories took hold then and have shaped her life since. With more than thirty years of writing experience, Cathy has been published in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. She has written award-winning copy for clients such as McDonald’s and MasterCard, non-fiction essays for national and community magazines, and website content for clients ranging from a Vietnamese orphanage to a horse ranch. She took part in New Zealand National Radio’s production of her love poem set in the 1000 Acre Wood, is thrilled by the existence of leafy seadragons, and fascinated by the conversations of strangers. Cathy would now rather write than sleep. She can be reached on cathy@kernbetts.com. Her first novel, My View of the Bright Moon, is due out in 2016.

About the Editor

Writer on Demand, Donald J. Bingle
Writer on Demand, Donald J. Bingle

Donald J. Bingle is the author of a variety of books and about fifty short stories in the horror, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, romance, comedy, and memoir genres. His company, 54-40' Orphyte, Inc. has already produced a variety of game and publishing products, including his series of Writer on Demand story collections. In addition, with more than a decade as a speaker and panelist for the GenCon Writers' Symposium and a member of the St. Charles Writers' Group, he has vast experience in editing and critiquing stories in a wide variety of genres.

Risks and challenges

Since stories have already been written and selected and contracts and payments already sent to authors, risks are limited to completion of final editing, formatting, printing, and shipping problems and delays. Because 54-40' Orphyte, Inc. has previously conducted a successful Kickstarter and completed fulfillment of all items on or ahead of schedule, please pledge to Familiar Spirits with confidence.

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    Early-bird Ebook Subscriber: The first twenty-five backers get an ebook copy of Familiar Spirits, in Kindle (mobi) or Nook (epub) format at this introductory price as our thanks for getting this Kickstarter off to a fast start.

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    Early-bird Print Subscriber: The first twenty-five backers get a print copy of Familiar Spirits at this introductory price as our thanks for getting this Kickstarter off to a fast start.

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    Print Subscriber: Get a print copy of Familiar Spirits, signed by Donald J. Bingle and William Pack, before it is available to the general public.

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    Ebook and Print Subscriber: Get both an ebook copy of Familiar Spirits, in Kindle (mobi) or Nook (epub) format, and a print copy of Familiar Spirits, signed by Donald J. Bingle and William Pack, before it is available to the general public.

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    Donald J. Bingle Ebook Story Extravaganza: Get ebook copies in Kindle (mobi) or Nook (epub) format of Familiar Spirits and all seven Writer on Demand story collections from author Donald J. Bingle (Tales of Gamers and Gaming; Tales of Humorous Horror; Tales Out of Time; Grim, Fair e-Tales; Tales of an Altered Past Powered by Romance, Horror, and Steam; Not-So-Heroic Fantasy; and Shadow Realities).

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    Divination Deal: Along with a print copy of Familiar Spirits, author Sarah Hans will do a four-card tarot reading for you from a Norse Tarot deck via Skype or Google Hangout.

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    Library Combo: Get four copies of Familiar Spirits for your favorite library or library system.

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    Shorter Story Critique: In addition to a print copy of Familiar Spirits, Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand TM, will critique your horror story up to 4,000 words and offer suggestions and comments. No erotica; no child abuse.

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    William Pack Print Book Extravaganza: Get print copies of Familiar Spirits and all four other William Pack books (The Essential Houdini; The Essential Great Chicago Fire; The Essential Edgar Allan Poe; and The Essential P.T. Barnum), all autographed by William Pack.

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    Donald J. Bingle Print Book Extravaganza: Get print copies of Familiar Spirits and four other Donald J. Bingle books (Forced Conversion (hardback); GREENSWORD (hardback); Net Impact (trade paperback); and Frame Shop (trade paperback), all autographed by Donald J. Bingle.

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    Indy Bookstore Package: Get ten print copies of Familiar Spirits for your book, game, or other retail store.

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    Longer Story Critique: In addition to a print copy of Familiar Spirits, Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand TM, will critique your horror story up to 7,500 words and offer suggestions and comments. No erotica; no child abuse.

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    Writer on Demand TM author, Donald J. Bingle, Writes for Your Anthology: Editors and publishers take note. Along with a digital and autographed trade paperback copy of Familiar Spirits, Donald J. Bingle will write a 3,000 to 6,000 word short story (no erotica, torture porn, or child abuse) for your horror anthology (or as otherwise agreed--inquire first), magazine, or website. Deadline no earlier than February 28, 2016 (or as agreed). First North American English print and digital rights, exclusive for one year, non-exclusive thereafter. Other standard terms, in author's reasonable discretion.

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    Treat and Trick: In addition to a print copy of Familiar Spirits, Master Magician William Pack will teach you a magic trick in person (in St. Charles, IL vicinity) or via Skype.

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    Piratical Presentation: In addition to three print copies of Familiar Spirits, pirate expert and performer T.S. Rhodes (in costume) will give a fascinating and educational presentation on pirates, centering on the life of Anne Bonny - a real-life female pirate who lived, loved, and fought during the Golden Age of Piracy. Presentation to be made at an agreed upon library or other suitable location within forty miles of St. Charles, Illinois.

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    Roleplaying Spectacular: In addition to six print copies of Familiar Spirits and six print copies of each of two anthologies put out by the GenCon Writer's Symposium (Stalking the Wild Hare; Carnage & Consequences), Donald J. Bingle, the world's top ranked player of classic roleplaying games for fifteen years, will run you and up to five friends through a four-hour roleplaying game authored by Don in either the Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia, James Bond, AD&D 2nd Edition, Dream Park, or Battle Cattle game systems. Game to occur in the St. Charles vicinity (or, as mutually agreed, at a convention Don is otherwise attending within the twelve months following the end of the Kickstarter).

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    Familiar Spirits Magic Spectacular: In addition to six print copies of Familiar Spirits, Master Magician and Story-Teller William Pack will weave magic and tales of ghostly horror at an agreed upon location in the St. Charles, Illinois vicinity for you and up to thirty friends.

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    Magic and Roleplaying Spectacular: In addition to ten print copies of Familiar Spirits, Master Magician and Story-Teller William Pack will perform a magic show at an agreed upon location in the St. Charles, Illinois vicinity for your friends and family, then Donald J. Bingle, the world's top ranked player of classic roleplaying games for fifteen years, will run you and up to five friends through a four-hour roleplaying game authored by Don in your choice of the Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia, James Bond, AD&D, Dream Park, or Battle Cattle game systems.

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Funding period

- (30 days)