California is a weird place. It’s not just weird in the granola-nutty way the rest of the country thinks it is. It’s much weirder than that.
This is a book of stories about those forgotten places in California where things are nothing like what you see on television, or the California vacationers write home about. It’s a collection of cursed and haunted places, and it’s sure to make you think twice about where you get off the freeway in the future.
So here’s the deal: I am giving away one of my copies of Strange California to the lucky winner of this contest. How do you win?
- Make sure you have liked my Facebook page.
- Tell me in the comments here OR on my live video there about your strange California experience. Keep it brief, but creep me out.
Winner will receive a signed copy of this gorgeous book, featuring not only fiction from me about the cursed little town of Hemet, but also stories from award winners and bestsellers like Seanan McGuire, Nick Mamatas, as well as a bunch of really cool art.
P.S. If you’re too shy to tell, or you need more than one you can also order the book here.
Ready set GO!
3 thoughts on “Strange California GIVEAWAY”
Hi Meg! Love hearing about everything you are doing. Here’s my little story about a place here in the IE.
In a dirt field bordered by a leaning wire fence is a curious place. My car pointed that way, as I exited the freeway before the road drops into the Hemet basin. It was 1998, before the housing boom crawled across the hills leaving Spanish tile roofs in it’s wake. And off this exit was a dirt road that ended at a canyon crisscrossed with an old metal gate hanging off rusty hinges. It was here that I was to see “Midget Town”. My boyfriend John M. had grown up in Riverside. He’d heard of this destination as a retreat for the diminutive stars of bawdy Hollywood. These folks had wanted a respite and country setting of their own size, so Midget Town came into existence. It had fallen into disrepair and subsequent abandonment in later years. And now was a ghost town of wee houses, with low linteled doors, and windows. That night in 1998, we crawled beneath the wires and ventured down a central road. A few gray planked houses and outbuildings stood on either side as we crept along. I imagined eyes following me from dead, broken windows. The novelty of small buildings was quickly lost in the dirty and cobwebby houses. Creaking plank floors boded of weak supports, and I was ready to leave. As we walked towards the gate down the dirt road, prickles went down my back. I wondered if I should peer back into those soulless, black windows. My answer came as the sharp report of a door banging echoed down the canyon. The sound hit me like a ton of bricks and propelled me forward out of there and into the car. I often think of that scaled down, empty horror as I see the green Central Avenue exit sign. The place has been covered in the stucco and tile roofing of new homes. But, it’s still there, beneath.
I live in a small community on the backside of a mountain in Southern California called the Valley of Enchantment. Whenever someone from the Valley of Enchantment tells someone where they live they immediately ask you, “well, is it enchanting?” The local joke is to cut them off before they even finish the question with a resounding and definitive, “No.” However, in a lot of ways that “no” is just a joke, because although this area is poverty stricken and run down, its is also beautiful, unique, and rife with local history being one of the oldest communities in the San Bernardino Mountains.
This place is amazing, and in a lot of ways it’s just another typical American small town, but in other ways it really can be a place frozen in time with a culture and set of myths and stories all it’s own. There are so many stories that it’s hard to choose just one. I could tell you the story of the time we snuck down to Old Moonie’s Temple in the dark and got lost and scared ourselves in the woods trying to find the Pillars of God at night, or I could tell you about the time the man in the hardware store told me about the history of my house and how his grandmother attempted a murder in my very living room, or I could tell you the legend of the Witch of the Pinnacles, or a dozen other hilarious or odd things that have happened here. But my favorite story is the story of Job, so that is the one I will tell. Now I’m not talking about the bible story, I’m talking about the ox who was as much a founding father of this town as his owner Daniel Seely was.
It all started back in the 1840s, before Brigham Young recalled the Mormons from the San Bernardino Valley back to Utah. This area was predominantly Mormon back then, and Camp Seely, the lumber mill that provided most of the lumber for the building of Los Angeles was located across the street from where I live now and owned by a devout Mormon named Daniel Seely. Running a lumber mill back in the 1840s was hard work and without modern equipment required the keeping of livestock, more specifically oxen, to haul the lumber down Devil’s Canyon to Waterman Canyon and eventually down to the valley to be shipped. Daniel Seely had many oxen, but none of them were as big or as strong as Job. You would think that Mr. Seely would have been blessed to own a creature such as Job, but unfortunately for him with as big and strong as Job was he was also equally pig-headed and strong-willed. Job did not want to haul lumber, Job wanted to enjoy the beautiful views the mountain had to offer on top of a peak 4 miles away from the lumber mill.
In the beginning, Mr. Seely tried to force Job back to the mill, but eventually realized it was useless as the ox would simply break out of his pen and return to his peak, causing all manner of catastrophe and large amounts of property damage in his wake. In the end, Job won out and he and Mr. Seely came to a silent agreement. Mr. Seely would let Job remain, unmolested on his peak and only send someone to get him if they needed the biggest and strongest ox on the mountain for the most difficult of jobs. There was one problem with this, no one wanted to walk 4 miles uphill to go and collect a belligerent ox, so there was always a large argument over who had to go. Finally, one day Mr. Seely had had enough and yelled, “Will someone just go get that DAMN ox off of his peak?!” Mr. Seely, appalled by what he had said, good Mormon that he was stopped himself right there and never again asked anyone to go get Job. Job was left to live out the rest of his life in peace and ever since that day that little peak he loved to stand upon has been known as Job’s Peak, and sometimes on a nice day people up on Job’s Peak will still see a lone ox standing sentinel and watching over our valley.
When a water pipeline was being constructed to bring water from the Colorado River to Los Angeles one of the first uphill grades was reached just on the outskirts of Palm Springs. After building the pipe up the upgrade the contractor found it did not line up with the pipe they had waiting at the top. The connected the two ends with a porous concrete connection. The water running through this porous connection acted like a straw and sucked all of the ground water from the area near Gilman Hot Springs effectively destroying many small time farms in the area. A few of the more savvy families joined forces legally and asked for shares of the new water company in lieu of damages. The company agreed to their terms leaving the other farms in the cold and literally dead. The water company stock exploded and the poor farming families who took the settlement became some of the riches families in California.