Personal

Yes, authors have lives, too!

Fall Update

I hope everyone had a great Halloween and is enjoying this creepy fall weather.

I’ve been involved with several projects as of late, one of which is more ghost hunting and paranormal investigation. If you write books about ghosts and the paranormal, you need to live the part. Right? I’ve been to several places over the past year, most notably The Thomas House in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. Why there? Why so many times? That’s because it’s one of those places where you will always be guaranteed action. I like action, lots of action. With its sordid past, the place stays active around the clock, every day. It’s also a short drive for me, the overnight room rates are cheap, the food is great, and the place makes an excellent getaway for reading, writing, or just relaxing and rebooting the old mind. It should come as no surprise that I am including The Thomas House in the sequel to Ghostly Cries From Dixie, which I am currently working on.

The sequel, still unnamed but using “MORE Ghostly Cries From Dixie” as its working title, will be released in the spring of 2015. As was the case with its predecessor, it will be a compilation of weird and ghostly tales from the South. Sound easy? Given the South’s reputation for haunted places and campfire tales, one would think it easy to find plenty stories for the book. Not so. Finding ghost stories for inclusion in a book is one the hardest projects I’ve ever worked on. The story needs to be rich enough in history to create a backdrop and backstory, yet creepy enough to be consistent with the book’s theme. Well-grounded ghost stories, especially those from the South, contain not only spooky elements, but also a strong sense of place.

During my search for bookworthy ghost stories from the South, I kept finding stories from the Natchez Trace, a footpath through the Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee wilderness back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Apparently, some of the early travelers along the old path, who never made it home, are still wandering up and down the trail or lurking in the nearby woods after more than 200 years. There were a few Native American attacks, a couple disease scares, and a handful of natural deaths, but most of those who died on the Natchez Trace were murdered by outlaws and bandits. Money was not always the motive. Some “land pirates,” such as the Harp Brothers, killed people just for the sake of killing. They thought it was fun. The Natchez Trace is full of history, outlaw stories, and ghosts. So, guess what? In addition to the “Ghostly Cries From Dixie” sequel, I am also writing a book about the infamous ghosts and bandits of the Natchez Trace. Look for it in the summer of 2015.

Also, at some point, I will hopefully get From Turkey Creek – A Memoir and the Bell Witch update book done as well.

Later……

Chattanooga Trip Highlights and Info

In a recent post, I mentioned going to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a few days. Now I’m back. What’s up with Chattanooga–why several trips in only two months?

The focus of my southeasterly travels has been the Delta Queen, a legendary, 90-year-old steamboat that is currently a floating hotel in Chattanooga. Only two hours down Interstate 24, the Delta Queen affords me three opportunities: 1) To see, feel, and essentially “live on” a boat I’ve been passionately interested in since my childhood; 2) to have a fun yet cozy “instant getaway,” anytime I need it; and 3) to study history and ghosts (two of my favorite subjects), and do some writing along the way. Ghosts? Yes. Read on.

Several of the Cabin Deck’s rooms (106, 109, 110, and 111) — the last two, in particular–have seen their share of weird, unexplainable activity. This includes water faucets turning on and off by themselves, guests feeling “watched,” personal items being moved or rearranged, and “whispering” sounds emanating from the walls. Also on the Cabin Deck, The Forward Cabin Lounge (aka the main lobby) has seen spooky activity in the form of ghostly figures of old ladies and men decked out in suits and ties peering into the lobby from the decks outside. This phenomenon is especially noticeable in photographs. Although plenty interesting things happen on the Cabin Deck, it is only the beginning; ghosts inhabit the entire boat.

Staterooms on the upper decks often experience the alarming sound of someone (or something) desperately trying to open the doors to the rooms. The sounds range from the repeated jamming of a key into the locks, to the doors actually being jarred back and forth, violently, as though someone were trying to force them open. Startled guests have awoken to the noises and, when not too terrified to move, tried to find the culprit. They never find anyone outside their doors; and the 285-foot deck is void of people. Another upper-deck room has, on one occasion, echoed a woman’s mischievous giggles. The incident occurred about 4AM, when most guests were asleep. No one was staying in the adjoining cabins.

Perhaps the most haunted place on the Delta Queen is the expansive Dining Room, named “The Orleans Room” and situated on the vessel’s lower deck. From the shoreline outside the boat, visitors have reported seeing “shadow people” moving about the dining room at all hours of the night, even when it is closed. Others have noticed a heavy, dark shadow suddenly looming over them as they worked in the kitchen. The shadow disappears after a second. Phantom footsteps are also commonly experienced in the Dining Room, along with the sound of dishes being clashed together and moved around in the kitchen, even when the kitchen is void of people. On one occasion, the piano on the Dining Room’s entertainment stage reportedly played by itself.

What proof do we have that the Delta Queen is haunted? The most convincing evidence comes in the form of unaltered photographs, their authenticity to which I can attest. Also, over the past few years, paranormal investigation groups have obtained very convincing EVP’s. In my opinion, there are TWO parties happening simultaneously on the Delta Queen. The first is the here and now; the present day, you and me. The second party happened many, many years ago, and is constantly replaying itself with the passengers, crew, sights, sounds, and even smells, of a bygone era being played out aboard the Delta Queen. And, at rare moments when the veil thins, we can partially see and experience the ghostly sights and sounds. But, aside from the boat’s glamorous, romantic past, a few tragedies also deserve mention.

In World War II, the Delta Queen served as a hospital transport boat in San Francisco Bay. It transported severely injured and mortally wounded soldiers from ocean-going “hospital ships” to medical facilities in San Francisco. Shortly after the War, Greene Steamboat Lines of Cincinnati, Ohio purchased the boat and began offering cruises of the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. From 1947 to 1949, Captain Mary Becker Greene, America’s first female steamboat captain, was at the helm of the Delta Queen. She died on the boat, in room 109. She was 80. A benevolent spirit, her presence is consistently felt throughout the vessel. Later, in the 1950s, a chef in the kitchen was killed with a meat cleaver after he pulled a knife on the butcher (go figure–you DON’T pull a knife on a butcher, ever), over a poker debt. Others also have died on the boat. Packed with such tragedy and triumph, and blanketed with the spiritual residue of four generations, it’s no wonder that the Delta Queen is literally infested with ghosts.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll write more on the Delta Queen in the coming months. Also, the full Delta Queen story, including all of its haunted history, will appear in my next collection of ghost stories (the sequel to Ghostly Cries From Dixie).

Last but not least: Here is a link to the boat (hotel’s) Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/DeltaQueenSteamboat

 

Year-End Thoughts

It was a busy 2013, with lots of promotions, writing, editing, and new research–the usual stuff. Ok, I’ll take some of that back. I didn’t do much writing this year; instead, I chose to concentrate on editing and promotion. Promoting my current titles and platform will build a stronger base from which to release my 2014 and 2015 titles. Likewise, editing moves those titles along to completion. Yes, my eyes are on the future. With 2013 being a paradigm-shifting year for authors, publishers, and most of all, readers, it was important to reevaluate, redesign, and rebuild my author platform. The REAL “three R’s.” I hope other authors have done this, too, as times are changing.

The final edit of From Turkey Creek – A Memoir is now complete, and I’m still looking for a suitable cover. I’ve been searching the past three years and haven’t found anything that comes even close to visually capturing the “Turkey Creek experience.” But then again, that’s why I’m writing the book in the first place–it was the most unique place on earth! I’m not releasing the book until I “get it right,” which includes the front and back covers. Regarding other titles, the new and updated Bell Witch book is coming along nicely; I’ll continue writing until June, and then I’ll do the pre-edit before sending it to a REAL editor. Also, several awesome short story and research opportunities have surfaced lately, and I plan to become heavily involved with all of them.

I have finalized the list of stories that will appear in my next ghost story book, which will be similar to Ghostly Cries From Dixie.

Over the next few days, however, I’ll be in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to research another haunted location–one that’s completely INFESTED with ghosts–and I might do a little writing, as well.

Winter Pruning

I’ve just checked my blog’s follow list for the first time. Then I checked the list of blogs I follow. They don’t match, or even come close to matching. The problem, it seems, is that I’m following a LOT of blogs who won’t extend the courtesy of following mine back. I thought such things only happen on “Twitter,” lol, but ironically, Twitter has actually turned out to be a much better social networking tool for me. At any rate, I’m yanking out my machete and fixing the WordPress problem right now. It wouldn’t be such a big deal to me, except that in the two months I’ve been here, only 28 people have bothered to follow. Maybe I could get better participation over on “Myspace,” but alas, I forgot my password when it turned into a ghost town, six years ago. Off to make it 28/28!

Still Moving In

Over the past few days, I’ve noticed on my stats page where a lot of people have visited this site and checked out most of its pages. Bravo! Good for you–and even better, if you click your mouse once and follow the page!

But that’s simply not happening. When people come to visit, they find, basically, a skeleton blog with irregular posts and incomplete pages. But why? I’m still moving in. I have to sync my appearances calendar, update my four-year-old press and media kit, and add a few things to my bio. I’m targeting the end of this month, February, to have everything up and running.

Thank you for your patience, and feel free to follow if you like.

New Web Site and Blog

Ok.  So it’s not really a web site in the strictest sense.  It’s a blog with a web site address!  From here on out, the official Pat Fitzhugh “web site,” also known as patfitzhugh.com, will be this WordPress blog.

“A blog?” you ask.  Yep.  I’ve run web sites since the early 1990s, when the World Wide Web first emerged, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.  Web sites are great for many things, as are blogs, but the latter is easier to update and maintain than the former.  Today’s tech delicacies, such as tag clouds, bookmarking sites, RSS, and the whole social media craze, add speed, relevance, notoriety, and credibility to any topic people find interesting.  When that happens, they share it with their friends, then their friends share it, and so on.  Blogging and social media are today’s digital incarnation of yesteryear’s old-fashioned “word-of mouth” network.  Blogging enables me to better interact with my readers–the people I write for.

One of my earlier web sites, originally created around 1994 and now in its tenth incarnation, “bellwitch.org,” isn’t going anywhere.  In fact, I’ve been gutting it out and optimizing it.  The site will undergo the biggest overhaul (and promotion) of its lifetime, beginning in March of 2013.

I hope you enjoy visiting patfitzhugh.com and reading the blog.  Make sure to check the accompanying pages, too.  You’ll find current news, descriptions of the books I’ve written, my biography (for the nosy at heart), and a FAQ page.

Take Care                 …… pf