scary

Radio Appearance on February 3rd

Monday, February 3rd — 8pm – 9pm Central

I’ll be discussing Memphis hauntings such as the Orpheum Theatre, the Sultana Disaster, and others, along with the Mississippi version of the Bell Witch legend, with hosts Stephen Guenther and Tanya Vandesteeg on the Expedition Unknown show at TMV Cafe Radio.

The above hauntings are discussed in Ghostly Cries From Dixie! So, if you have questions after reading the book, just listen to the show and ask them in the provided chatroom. I’ll be glad to answer–or to talk about whatever else is on your mind. You can listen LIVE at the following link:

http://www.tmvcafe.com/#!radio/c1x9v

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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

 

#Ghosts #Paranormal #AmWriting How to Write a Ghost Story (My Way)

But first…. Ready for fright season? Get your copy of “Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” TODAY! Kindle and paperback editions available. Click here! Pleasant dreams.

Checking my stats this evening, I noticed someone had found my site by using the search term, “how to write a ghost story.” How to write a ghost story? I’m flattered, indeed, but I’ve yet to offer any insight into writing about things that go bump in the night. Until now.

What is a ghost story? A story involving a character(s) of a ghostly, paranormal nature? A story about a ghost that swipes cookies from the kitchen, wakes you up, and sucks all the energy from your body while regurgitating said cookies? Could a ghost story be a journalistic approach to solving, or trying to explain, a haunting? I suppose it could be any of the above, but I deal only with the latter, the journalistic approach. Neither a believer nor a skeptic, my unbiased approach to a haunting entails digging up lots of information (records), analyzing the information to separate fact from hocus-pocus, and presenting my findings–anything factual or noteworthy–to my readers.

Assuming I’ve completed a five-day trip to a haunted location 1000 miles away, and analyzed my findings, the example below is how I write the story. The example is NOT a perfect (edited) story. It flowed from the top of my head to my fingers, and then to my keyboard, as I thought it up. The example is based on a historic hurricane, but I know neither the date nor the particulars–I only know it happened at one of my favorite places. I borrowed the example’s main character from my book, Ghostly Cries From Dixie, changing her name from Marie LaVeau to Madame Treme’. Without further ado, here’s how I write a ghost story.

The Intro
The Intro sometimes includes a ghostly hint before transitioning into the main story. By “story,” I mean the story of a real-life tragedy that caused the haunting. Here is an intro with a hint:

For years, people have heard the thunder of Voodoo drums and seen scantily-dressed characters dancing along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The eerie thumps and fervent apparitions fade into the early morning fog when approached, leaving witnesses terrified and searching for answers.

The Story
Other times, the intro goes straight into the story (no intro):

For over fifty years, Madame Treme’ led exotic Voodoo rituals involving animal sacrifices, drunken orgies, live boas along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. These rituals would begin around 10 o’clock at night and last until daybreak.

 

The Tragedy (the reason for a haunting)
Ok, let’s assume we’ve done the intro and a three-page story, thus far. Now it’s time to seal the story with a tragedy:

Just before daybreak on a sweltry October morning, Madame Treme’ and her followers experienced what they thought were the gods. Thunder boomed and roared, the howling wind picked up, and lightning crackled in the usually dark sky. Weather warning systems didn’t exist in 1835; people were left to fend for themselves when they saw bad weather approaching. At night, there was no way to tell how bad an approaching front would be, until it was too late. The Voodoo ritual grew more intense as sheets of rain swept the now whitecapping lake and trees buckled. Within five minutes, a powerful hurricane changed the face of Lake Pontchartrain forever and buried Madame Treme’ and her followers in the lake’s murky depths.

The Transition (get your spook on)
Tragedy accomplished. Boo hoo. Now, let’s transition to the paranormal and create a ghost story:

Long lost, but not forgotten, Madame Treme’ was the most notorious Voodoo queen in Louisiana history. Men loved her, women coveted her, and the organized clergy cursed her. She weilded sceptre over those who followed her, sacrificing to the Loa, manipulating the human psyche, and destroying those who dared to cross her. And now, almost 180 years later, Madame Treme’ still wields her sceptre, more forcefully than ever, from her watery grave!

The Evidence (why we think there’s a ghost)
Paranormal transition accomplished. Now that we’ve got our spook on, we need to provide evidence to back our claim.

Anglers frequently report seeing an older Creole woman wandering the shores of Lake Pontchartrain at daybreak. When spoken to, she smiles and quickly turns in the opposite direction, then disappears. In 1998, two college students who had camped in the woods near the lake reported hearing Voodoo drums and seeing people dressed in Voodoo attire late one night. The figures danced near the shore and wailed repeatedly. The drum’s beat grew softer over the course of five minutes, and the mysterious revelers faded into the fog.

That’s not much evidence. For a real story in a book, you will need to interview more people. Make sure to get their names and make them sign releases, too. Now we need to present possible theories:

The Theories

Some say the anglers and campers were smoking crack, and they hallucinated. A local scientist says the mysterous dancing figures, which are hard to discern at night, represent concentrations of methane gas, and that the drumbeats are the rumbling of nearby towboat engines. However, most people in the hamlet of Port Manchac feel the eerie sounds and apparitions are none other than Madame Treme’ and her followers, trapped in the worst hurricane on record, and trying to complete their rituals.

The Close

Despite many oft-conflicting theories and generalizations, one thing is certain. Something is wrong, very wrong, on the shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Is it evil? Is it religious? Will it hurt you? Your children? Should you dare to find out for yourself, make sure to carry a cross and watch our back.

And finally, if you’d like to see detailed examples–REAL ghost stories–you can snag a copy of Ghostly Cries From Dixie at Amazon for only $2.99 (Winter Special).

Pleasant dreams.

TV Interview Wrap-Up

Today I enjoyed the company of Devon and Angie of Mysterious World TV. During the three-hour interview, we discussed The Bell Witch: The Full Account and Ghostly Cries From Dixie, along with a few stories from the latter. We talked about “Mary,” the ghost of Memphis, Tennessee’s famed Orpheum Theatre, Voodoo queen Marie LaVeau and New Orleans ghosts, the abandoned Waverly Hills TB Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, the “Devil’s Tramping Ground” in North Carolina, ghost lights (Will O’ the Wisp), and the infamous “Bell Witch” of Tennessee. We all had a great time. And now, back to writing–after some much-needed sleep.

"Wow - 3 hours with the fascinating author/historian, Pat Fitzhugh, just FLEW by! Pat was our fact filter for the Bell Witch Legend and also shared stories with us from his book "Ghostly Cries From Dixie". Having the opportunity to sit down with Pat for so long was a great welcome to Nashville, TN!" --Mysterious World TV

“Wow – 3 hours with the fascinating author/historian, Pat Fitzhugh, just FLEW by! Pat was our fact filter for the Bell Witch Legend and also shared stories with us from his book “Ghostly Cries From Dixie”. Having the opportunity to sit down with Pat for so long was a great welcome to Nashville, TN!” –Mysterious World TV

 

#MustRead #Paranormal #Ghosts Reminder: “Ghostly Cries From Dixie” Winter Special $2.99

The “dead of winter” special for Ghostly Cries From Dixie ($2.99) is still happening! If you like reading about history, the South, and haunted locations, this collection of weird and ghostly tales from the land of moonshine and magnolias is for you!  Why buy it at Halloween for $5.99 when you can buy it NOW for only $2.99?

“From the murky swamps of Louisiana to the misty hollows of Appalachia, the American South is enshrouded by a mystical element that rouses the senses and kindles the imagination. This mystical element has for years inspired tales of ghosts haunting old houses, creatures roaming dense forests, and headless apparitions waving lanterns along old railroad tracks.

In this chilling collection of weird and ghostly tales from the land of moonshine and magnolias, Pat Fitzhugh meticulously recounts Dixie’s most terrifying tales and the haunted history behind them.

These stories will never go away or become outdated. They, along with the landscape of our region, are permanently etched into our human experience. Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, you will be left wondering about — or perhaps admitting to for the first time — experiences of your own that you can’t explain.

Come on a terrifying journey down the road less traveled, where ghosts, haints, and spirits stand vigilant watch over the dark swamps, creaky houses, and forgotten graveyards of Dixie.”

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“Trust me, even if you creep out easily, you have to read this book. It’s entertaining, educating, and just out and out good.” — Customer Review

“The stories are thoroughly researched and well told. The tales will hold your attention and keep you entertained.” — Customer Review

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Go snag a copy from Amazon!

Pat Fitzhugh's "Ghostly Cries From Dixie" -- Front cover.

“Ghostly Cries From Dixie” — Front cover.