Category Archives: Writing

The Haunting of Chatham Hollow

Let’s all welcome Mae Clair to Entertaining Stories today. She’s here to tell us about her latest release, The Haunting of Chatham Hollow.

Mae is one of my oldest and dearest author friends. I freely recommend anything she writes. We started Story Empire together, and I soon met Staci Troilo, Mae’s partner in this project.

I’ve also read a ton of Staci’s work, and recommend her stories without any reservations. It’s Mae who showed up today, so let’s all make her feel welcome. Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons while you’re here. I know both Staci and Mae have done it for many of you.

PS: I already have my copy preordered and could be reading it by the time this goes live. Can’t miss with these two teaming up.

***

Craig, thank you so much for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be here with you and your readers to share The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. I co-authored this novel with Staci Troilo, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was amazing to work with a co-author, especially someone as talented as Staci. She and I found we work great together, so who knows—maybe another down the road.

For now, we hope others will enjoy our supernatural mystery which includes dual timelines, ghostly happenings, a town curse, murder, and rumors of buried gold. During our short promo tour, you’ll meet several characters who populate the book. Today, I’d like to introduce Benedict Fletcher, from the 1888 timeline. Spiritualism is a key thread in the book, so Staci and I thought we’d have each character sit down with a medium as a way of introduction.

Let’s listen in.

SPIRTUALIST: I feel a little awkward, given you’re a spiritualist yourself, Mr. Fletcher. Do you really want me to proceed with a reading?

BENEDICT: (waving aside the offer): We can skip that. Chatham Hollow already has one too many mediums as it is.

SPIRTUALIST: I take it you’re referring to Victor Rowe?

BENEDICT: Don’t you mean the Great Victor Rowe? (rolls eyes) The man has a reputation longer than a locomotive.

SPIRTUALIST: Well… he is endorsed by the Society of Psychical Research, something not easily accomplished.

BENEDICT: Only because the SPR hasn’t investigated him thoroughly enough.

SPIRTUALIST: Is that why you’ve made it your mission to upstage him? You’ve only recently arrived in Chatham Hollow yet have made quite a name for yourself. I’ve heard even Irene Chatham sings your praises.

BENEDICT: (straightening his cinnamon-colored cravat) The mayor’s wife recognizes talent when she sees it. I had the pleasure of summoning the dear woman’s deceased mother, providing her the comfort so many crave when they lose a loved one.

SPIRTUALIST: You did the same for her sister, Dorinda—summoning her husband from beyond the Veil.

BENEDICT: Yes, yes. (steepling his fingers with a solemn nod) She was most appreciative.

SPIRTUALIST: Enough to suggest you contact Ward Chatham at the Founder’s Day Festival?

BENEDICT: It was more about the SPR.Dorinda is acquainted with two members, and thought if they saw me conduct a séance, they might endorse me. You understand how important that is.

SPIRTUALIST: Of course.But there are also rumors of an underlying motive—hoping to discover where Ward Chatham hid his gold.

BENEDICT: Chatham’s gold—and his curse—is the stuff of legend. It’s fool’s gold if you ask me.

SPIRTUALIST: Really? Then the treasurehas nothing to do with why you came here from St. Louis?

BENEDICT: I came for one reason only—to build a reputation. (he smiles sharply) And discredit Victor Rowe in the process.

____________

BLURB:
One founding father.
One deathbed curse.
A town haunted for generations.

Ward Chatham, founder of Chatham Hollow, is infamous for two things—hidden treasure and a curse upon anyone bold enough to seek it. Since his passing in 1793, no one has discovered his riches, though his legend has only grown stronger.

In 1888, charlatan Benedict Fletcher holds a séance to determine the location of Chatham’s fortune. It’s all a hoax so he can search for the gold, but he doesn’t count on two things—Victor Rowe, a true spiritualist who sees through his ruse, and Chatham’s ghost wreaking havoc on the town.

More than a century later, the citizens of the Hollow gather for the annual Founder’s Day celebration. A paranormal research team intends to film a special at Chatham Manor, where the original séance will be reenacted. Reporter and skeptic Aiden Hale resents being assigned the story, but even he can’t deny the sudden outbreak of strange happenings. When he sets out to discover who or what is threatening the Hollow—supernatural or not— his investigation uncovers decades-old conflicts, bitter rivalries, and ruthless murders.


This time, solving the mystery isn’t about meeting his deadline. It’s about not ending up dead.

________

Thanks again for hosting me today, Craig. It was a pleasure to drop by—along with my unnamed spiritualist and Benedict Fletcher. (Please excuse Benedict. He can be quite the chameleon). I invite your readers to pick up a copy of The Haunting of Chatham Hollow at the link below. Staci and I both appreciate the support and wish everyone happy reading!

PURCHASE LINK

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

Connect with Staci Troilo at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Social Media | Newsletter
Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads

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Things authors worry about

I managed to write eleven unique posts to promote The Midnight Rambler. I wish I had a purchase link to insert, but I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks. I’d like a few more posts, but they’ll have to wait until I have a few spare moments.

I wrote a post about the music, keeping the setting consistent, and expanding this universe. I think it was pretty good stuff and those who follow the eventual tour shouldn’t be disappointed.

While hacking these out, something dawned on me. I came up with a cool new character and a way to introduce him. His role is to show there’s more going on around Lizzie and the hat than what they can see. I even figured out a great way to blame his actions on them and tie it to Night Bump Radio.

Then it occurred to me that he would be awesome at the final act of the Asian end of the world story I’ve been dreaming up for two years. This is the problem. In my schedule, the end of the world story comes before the one where I want to introduce him.

It would be cool to intro him, then see some problems he causes for Lizzie and the hat. Then he gets an important cameo in the Asian story. Don’t know how to solve this problem, but I have a couple of years to figure it out.

Back to work tomorrow, so my author hat has to come off for the week. Maybe something will come to me during the commutes.

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Biting the Bullet

I really want to be working on either Goodbye Old Paint, or Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. That’s where my heart is in this author life, but I can’t neglect other parts of the gig.

Today, I made a framework for all my tour posts. It gives each post some similarity, even though every one will be unique. I took the easy way out and wrote the Lisa Burton appearances first. After all these years, it’s easy to write Lisa’s posts, and I have the artwork to refer to. Lisa usually moves more copies than I do anyway. Something about those graphics and her personality.

There is plenty for me to discuss when it comes to The Midnight Rambler. It will come out in October and should fit right in with the rest of The Hat Series. I’ll probably write about the tribulations of keeping a series like this going and another about how it differs from a closed-loop series. I have another one formulating about an expanding environment and how not everything happens right in front of Lizzie.

That last idea came to me when a new character walked into the writing cabin. They just seem to keep showing up, and while they don’t all deserve their own story, they can help convince readers that more is happening out there. It lets their imaginations run wild after the last page is read.

So, I’m parked on the Asian afterlife story that involves a competition similar to American Idol and the end of the world. There’s the one with the return of the Headless Horseman which will come next in the series. I have new characters in the form of a philosopher who’s also a witch, a unique monster I came up with, and now an anthropomorphic rooster. These guys are all holding some kind of retreat in my brain while I work on promo for The Midnight Rambler. I’m afraid my current manuscripts are parked for the time being.

I should mention that all of these ideas are much crazier than they sound in a simple paragraph. I don’t want to drop spoilers, but I try to bring fresh spins to old ideas and even my unique ones have to be a little bit different.

I tapped into the Asian pears for lunch today. They’re awesome, as usual. I didn’t thin the tree nearly enough this Spring, so they’re all more schoolboy sized this year. Still good, but they would have been larger with better thinning.

I’m thinking of a nap in about an hour. After that, I’ll probably write my appearance for Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising. This is a must for me every year, and I’m so glad she’s holding this event. She’s still looking for a few more guests if you have something in the Halloween neighborhood of reading.

My plan is to create as many posts as I can, then put out a call for hosts. I don’t know how many volunteers I can produce something for, but will have a better idea by next weekend. I’m not even tracking volunteers at this point, but the day is coming soon.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend and doing something you love.

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Vacation day four: New words and new problems

Technically, this is the last day of my vacation. Everything remaining is the weekend. They’re still leisure days, so who cares about technicalities.

I wanted to get some kind of word count out of the deal, and am satisfied with how things went. Mari left her last mentor and headed into the wilderness once more.

She wound up in a new town and used her newfound sense of smell to some advantage. I made it kind of embarrassing, because she had to sniff the abandoned saddles of the killers she’s after.

All told it came to most of a chapter. I’d like for her to spend more time here, but she’s probably discovered everything she’s going to and needs to move on.

President Biden posed a new problem for me. In “Old Paint,” Lizzie is manipulated into helping a secret branch of the FBI with a paranormal problem. I’ve posted about this before. However, the leverage was her unpaid student loans.

Part of my story is based upon an earlier era, where they used to seize assets to pay the loans down. Most typically a car. It’s fiction, and really happened, so I’m content here.

Biden threw me a curve by forgiving student debt, but I can work with it. First, Lizzie’s debt exceeds any forgiveness being offered. (Spoiler) Since Lizzie takes a lot of her hits from everyday life, I decided to add the debt forgiveness to the story at the end. Meaning, she does all this work to pay her debt, then after she finishes, the President forgives it all anyway. It really feels like something that fits into Lizzie’s journey.

What I don’t like is having this put a timeline on the series. I don’t want to release this book until early next year, and will stick to my guns. I kind of like reflecting some current events in these stories, like the various conspiracy theories that get into Night Bump Radio.

I’d rather not have been so spot-on, but really don’t have a choice. I can ignore the reality and forge ahead, or include it. I’m choosing to include it. I need a few more words for that story, and if Lizzie has a big tantrum it might even help.

On a side note, my Story Empire friends and I had a laugh about things I dream up coming true. I’m the guy who published Viral Blues two months before an actual global pandemic. The latest jab was the death of the weather witch in Good Liniment. Seems like the weather has gone to crap since then.

After the student loan thing, maybe I should write about the cure to cancer, or Covid. I really wish the grid from Grinders would come true, but it seems I don’t have control over that.

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Vacation day three: Into the Amazon

I had plans to shove my manuscript through Amazon’s machine today to see how it held up. I managed to do that, but not without some drama.

First, I had to bring the Mac into the modern era. It’s still all screwed up with my son’s passwords and not recognizing anyone but him now. I managed to get it to a point where it’s relatively functional.

Then there was the office drama. I nearly got called back to work today. Fortunately, it was something we could deal with over the phone, but it put me off my game for a while.

When it came down to it, I got my chance with Amazon. I had to put out an entry level blurb before it would let me advance to the screen I needed. That’s something I’ll have to address once I’m ready to publish.

Amazon found some spelling errors that kind of pissed me off. Why didn’t Apple flag these while I was writing the damned thing? These are mostly medical terms, so they didn’t jump out at me during my reviews. One involved a word that should have had a double-t, and I just missed it.

Several of my silly cartoons wound up in the wrong spots. My section breaks are also silly cartoons since I can’t find a font to insert a bass clef.

I contacted my formatter, and she’s a trooper. This is another reminder to start ahead of time if you have a target publication date. Many books it really doesn’t matter, but Lizzie and the hat always do better during the Halloween season. It will be here before I know it, and I still have promo posts to write.

I may have to send my formatter a gift card, or just PayPal her a tip or something.

No new words today, but that’s okay. Not all progress is word-count. I need to see if AutoCrit or something can find some of those spelling errors for me.

Task list: Promo posts, get my son’s footprint out of the Mac, fiddle with AutoCrit.

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Vacation day one: Author problems

I worked on Lizzie and the hat this morning, and am struggling with a few different things. This usually means it’s time to jump stories.

As I take this series further, I’m getting great mileage out of expanding the supernatural world around Lizzie St. Laurent. If you’ve followed the series, Good Liniment is a prime example. The witches coven is fertile ground to spawn new tales.

I’ve done some of that, but don’t want it to become a theme. I never want to feel like I’m dialing it in because I have access to more powerful characters to help Lizzie in her efforts.

My intent is for Goodbye Old Paint to be more light-hearted and geared more toward the humor side. Past tales did this with a scoop of graphic violence, but this one doesn’t really need that.

I finished my chapter this morning, and the monsters behind the story have all been dealt with. Problem is that I’m at just over 30,000 words. I want all these to come in at slightly over 40K. That’s one hell of a denouement.

I added a section about Night Bump Radio and that always seems to fit into these stories. What’s left is returning some of the blackmail to the government agents who forced Lizzie into this project, a gig with her band, then a girls night with her new besties. (Two witches)

At the outside, I could include an epilog about the government domestic spying. Kind of like horror films always show you the real monster still exists.

Including any or all of these things feels right, but I don’t know if there’s 10,000 words there.

Part of the fun of writing an ongoing series is all the new ideas. I came up with a cool character that’s going to force me to dive into philosophy, and a monster that’s kind of gruesome and unique. Fortunately, I have years to think about them and find a plot for them.

I’ll have to figure out how, with my monster killing the homeless people and leaving no evidence behind, how is Lizzie ever going to get on the trail in the first place. Right now my options are Detective Joe Yoder, or Kevin the vampire. Maybe something else will come to me in the next year.

I need to figure out my new unaffiliated witch/circus midget/former philosophy professor and what kind of monster Lizzie will be chasing to lead her to his door. Then it’s all going to lead to a bipolar talking toilet, because it is one of those stories.

I’ve started cheat sheets for both characters so I don’t forget anything.

It really does feel like time to switch back to Mari’s story in the swamp. Maybe something will pop into my head while I’m being more serious.

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Life as a submariner

I’ve been on the Voice of Indie Podcast and had a great time. The guys are still going strong, and today they’re promoting a book by Robert Williscroft and Jerry Pait. This is a group of stories about Jerry’s time in the United States Navy, as a submariner.

Let’s make them feel welcome. Check out the book, and if you have a moment, tune into the podcast on Wednesday. Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons on your way out. It will help them, and me.

# # #

Jerry Pait enlisted on September 15, 1964, was assigned to Fleet Sonar School, volunteered for subs, and ended up on USS Entemedor (SS-340). After Advanced Sonar School, he was transferred as an STS-2 to USS Von Steuben (SSBN 632B) in the Philly yards right after her collision off Cadiz, Spain. I was a newly minted Lt. j.g., fresh out of Poseidon Missile School, having come through the NESEP program and Univ. of Washington in marine and atmosphere physics. I guess the skipper made me Sonar Officer because I was a former sonar tech. Jerry and I served together until I left for the Man-in-the-Sea Program and ultimately Operation Ivy Bells, tapping into Soviet underwater communications cables in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Jerry went on to become COB on Von Steuben, served in a senior position in Sonar/Torpedoman School, and then was commissioned as an LDO Ensign. He returned briefly to Von Steuben and then served as a division officer on several sub tenders. After that, he was assigned to NOTU, supervising underwater ballistic missile launchings for several years, working closely with NASA. He rose to Lt. Cmdr., was selected for Cmdr. But was mustered out on retirement as part of Clinton’s force reduction efforts.

Jerry took a senior field position with the major defense contractor Brown & Root, but during his first year, he fell from 20 feet in a way that fractured his back and cracked his skull. He survived, received a significant settlement, and has struggled ever since to regain as much function as possible.

I was on Jerry’s emailing list. He began to send out periodic stories from his past. They were fascinating, and the response from his list was remarkable. I saw their potential and contacted Jerry—we hadn’t communicated directly with each other in decades. I suggested that I work with him to compile his stories into a coherent whole, and that we put out a book. He agreed, so we found a publisher who was willing to work with us on this strange project, and we completed the book last month.

Jerry’s book, Sŭbmarine-Ër: 30 Years of Hijinks & Keeping the Fleet Afloat, will be released on September 15, exactly 58 years after he enlisted. The book is on pre-publication sale right now as an ebook for only 99¢. The ebook price will rise to $3.99 on September 15. Each chapter has a color photo that illustrates the contents of that chapter. The trade paperback printed version has half-tone photos and will sell for $19.95 The hardbound, jacketed edition is in full color throughout and will sell for $36.95. Both will be available for pre-order within two or three days.

Why am I doing this? Jerry is our brother—and he’s a genuine American hero. His story deserves to be told far and wide. I’m not here selling books. I’m here asking you to help me preserve the memory of one of the best among us. By purchasing the ebook on pre-order (only 99¢), you will help boost his sales ranking, so that on September 15, the release date, his ranking will shoot up. If you want the trade paperback, or the really cool hardbound, jacketed, full color version, you can pre-order those as well from Amazon or any other online bookseller, or you can order it from your favorite brick and mortar store as well. Should you want an autographed copy, please use the Contact form at FreshInkGroup.com, and I will put you into direct contact with Jerry.

The Book Trailer!

            https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=6pklESG3x-w

Live Interactive Podcast with Pait and Williscroft!

Call (516) 453-9902 or hashtag #FreshInkGroup in tweets during the show.

The Book Blurb!

Lieutenant Commander Jerry Pait’s semi-autobiographical collection of sixty stories recounts his thirty years in and around the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet. Ranging from light-hearted to wrenching, all are poignant inside looks at naval operations rarely seen by outsiders. Topics include the real story behind the shuttle Challenger tragedy, risking his own life underwater, discovering a Soviet spy living across the street, surviving when a DELTA Rocket engine ignites, critical missions, and the everyday lives of men and women of the fleet. Dive into Sŭbmarine-Ër for hijinks and breathtaking adventure with this poignant memoir by a true American hero.

 

Order Yours!

Digital editions at 99 cents during pre-sale are available in all major ebook formats—Kindle, Nook, Kobo, GPlay, iBooks, and 200+ more—worldwide. Full-color jacketed hardcovers and softcovers are appearing at retailer sites over the next week.

Amazon

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Another Bachelor Weekend

Just me and the dogs this weekend. Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada to visit family. I kind of planned on getting a lot written, but it didn’t work out quite that way.

I spent a good part of my day playing a stupid game. I used to feel guilty for things like this, but that isn’t healthy. The fact is, I work hard all week. I generally work hard most weekends, and I felt like goofing off.

There are two complete books on the Cloud right now, and I got the formatted MS back for The Midnight Rambler today. I also have two mostly drafted stories that I’m working on.

It wasn’t a complete abandonment of my available time. I managed about 4/5 of a chapter. I think there are some great humorous bits in it. I made a fun James Brown joke, and even managed to electrocute Lizzie St. Laurent. (Just a little bit. I’m sure her hair grow out.)

I don’t know that I’m going to get a lot more done tomorrow either. I have one blog assignment, and that might be it for my weekend.

Vacation is looming. We can’t afford to do squat, so I’m staying home, but we’re going to the fair one night. The free concert that night is Pat Benatar. We’ve seen her before, but it’s hard to pass up a stellar show for the price of fair admission. I can also have fair food, so that will be our supper.

Boise has had a great lineup of musicians this year, but tickets seem to be around $150… each. That would be an expensive night out for us. We passed on Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and The Black Crows. Pat Benatar is a favorite and will be a good time.

With all that leave available, I might squeeze a bit of writing time from the rest of the week. Time will tell.

We’ve tied the record for most days over 100 degrees here in Boise this summer. I have no doubt that we’ll be breaking it before this is all over. The pups and I are staying cool, and doing whatever strikes our interest. I hope all of you are doing whatever grabs your attention, too.

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A reasonable effort

From a purely numbers point of view, I managed three-quarters of one chapter. It was already started, and I finished it.

Every story comes with its own challenges, and this Hat story is no different. This time, the problem comes to Lizzie, but she knows where and what it is from the very first chapter. There is no big mystery to unravel.

It involves a swarm of gremlins at a national security agency. This is a real place in St. Louis, and since these stories are in pseudo St Louis, it was a good fit.

The struggle comes from Lizzie not being outfitted to fight a swarm of tiny creatures. The .357 magnum revolvers just don’t seem to work here, and a pitchfork isn’t much better. I gained a bit from trying to find her some better gear to finish the job.

I’m at just under 3/4 of the way through the story. This one is still going to have all the crazy things, and a lot of banter, but it’s more about Lizzie powering up to a degree. Can’t be a large degree because of the ongoing nature of these stories.

I’m delving deeper into Lizzie’s circle of friends, and even introduced a new witch with a new skill set. There’s even a chapter where Noodles the turtle-dog-thing gets to help her out. It’s crazy just like he is, but she’s going to lose access to him. The hero has to cross the finish line herself.

One of my goals here is to show the struggle of young people today. Granted it’s a crazy POV, but Lizzie constantly fights to make ends meet. This story is largely about debt. There is real world bank type debt, but there’s also indebtedness to friends. I’ll have to remember to include some kind of gift for Noodles.

My desire is to wrap this one with a couple of musical gigs, then have her start paying back some of that personal debt. Right now, I have it planned as a work party that’s just a cover for a girls night with her new witch friends. I have to decide how graphic I want these girls to get when there are no men around.

I suppose the hat will be there, and he might help tone things down. He can also be a bit gossipy, so there should be some chances to let him shine. Lizzie does have one secret that can get out. I’m going to stand silent on it, because it will be revealed in The Midnight Rambler, which is being formatted as I type this. It will publish this fall. After all, what would October be without a new Hat story?

I’m also sensing a concern here. I like having access to Lizzie’s circle of friends, but I don’t want to develop a theme here. Problem leads to seeking help from the coven which allows her to succeed. I may be fortunate in that the next story will involve Lizzie on the road away from Good Liniment and all it has to offer.

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A little better today

I’m definitely in the middle slog with Mari’s swamp story. I broke the 40,000 word mark by the time I quit and ended at a chapter. (Half a novel. Woo-hoo!)

This can’t be an action sequence, so there was a lot of training involved. Some of it quite brutal and she has bruises and scrapes everywhere. I also included a tiny bit of world building, but didn’t get too deep this far into the story.

I’ve reached the point where it’s time for her to pick up the trail once more. There are more clues to where the killers went in the next town, but she’s better prepared for what she’s seeking now.

Oddly enough, an old movie called Hannie Caulder came on the other night. There are some similarities to the story I’m telling, but I think mine is better. Of course, I don’t have access to Raquel Welch, but I like Mari and she’s doing just fine.

This is one of those stories where I could kill my main character in the last chapter and it would work out well. I’m sure it would be a stronger story because of that. I also know I’ll never actually do it.

I took one tiny break to Google wildflowers of the Florida Panhandle, for the sake of accuracy. This world is full of exotic creatures, because Florida is that way now. A few wildflowers help blend everything together.

There’s a pretty good chance I’ll pick up Lizzie and the hat the next time I take up the keyboard. This is a great point to leave Mari, and she even has a roof over her head this time.

While I already know what’s going to happen with all my stories, sometimes switching tales brings new ideas and thoughts.

I’d kind of like to have her cross the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. It would take about eight days by ox and wagon from where she is now. This is because after an extended war and nationwide system failures, it makes for a decent struggle. Imagine trying to live off the land, but there is only a swamp and it’s below you, out of reach.

My research says this thing is eighteen miles long. I can stage it so there’s at least one uncomfortable and hungry night spent on the bridge. Fill it with holes from war damage, add a ton of ox, and it could be interesting. No area for grazing either, which could cause a critical delay if I come up with something. Weigh that against the odds of my spelling the damned thing correctly.

I’ll have to ponder it while moving the hat forward in his next adventure.

Hope everyone out there is having a great weekend.

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