I've been invited to speak to a youth group this week about writing and publishing -- two of my favorite topics. It is always exciting for me to help encourage youth in the writing craft. One of my favorite things about book signings is meeting young people who like to read. They light up when they talk about their favorite books and authors. I was excited too when I learned during one book signing that an elementary school was using one of my books in class.
On another note, I very soon might be collaborating with another person on a book project. It'll be something different than what I've done in the past. I can't say anything else right now, but I'm excited about the possibilities.
Also, I'm a good chunk into writing my next book, this one another solo project and much larger than any of my published books so far. There's never a dull moment, but that's OK. That's how I like it -- busy writing. Now if I could just get in the habit of updating my blog more often, that'd be good.
On a final note, thanks for all the messages you've sent me through the contact page. Keep 'em coming, and I promise to reply as soon as possible. As always, thanks for reading!
I read an article this afternoon that mentioned a southern Idaho paranormal buff who said Monday's solar eclipse might cause more paranormal activity over the next month or so. Meaning, he said, if you live in a place where you have experienced such things, the activity may increase because of the solar event. If you notice an increase in the ghostly, drop me a line to let me know. I might want to chat with you about it.
Enjoy the solar eclipse and keep you eyes safe.
I finished another manuscript this fall, and am now starting to work with my editor and the production team on turning the manuscript into a finished and saleable book. It’s a fun process. The book won’t be released for several months yet, but the next thing I get from the publisher will be proofs of the cover. I recently reviewed illustrations from the artist. Fun artwork for what I hope will be a fun and information book.
Here's a revised sample story from my book Haunted Utah ...
I sat alone in the small newsroom, a large picture window in front of me that looked out onto Main Street, and on my desktop a half-written story. It was a quiet morning, the kind I enjoyed in order to get things done.
The Magna Times, owned by Howard and Bonnie Stahle, had served the community since 1907. Its cozy, ink-filled building is just as old. The Stahles, who acquired the building in the early 1970s, worked long and hard to make it a vibrant voice in the community. They eventually opened two other weekly newspapers, one to serve nearby West Valley, the other to serve the township of Kearns. I worked as the newspaper’s managing editor for two years, from 2004-2006, overseeing the production of all three papers, and at a transitional time for the struggling business. I helped pull it into modernity – or, as its masthead reminded me every day, the “Times” – by initiating its own website and tackling broader-based stories than its previous writers had covered. It was an uphill battle, however, both economically and practically, and I eventually pursued greener pastures at larger newspapers.
I still have fond memories working for the Magna Times, now under new ownership, and I enjoyed sitting in its spacious musty-filled newsroom. At the time, there wasn’t much new about Magna. Everything seemed old – from the brown-brick buildings to the dust-covered newspapers that sat tucked inside cabinet walls to the alleged ghosts that still haunt the now more modern looking downtown Magna.
Perhaps one of those ghosts visited the newspaper.
One morning while working on a story, I heard the presses in the backroom begin to roll. That’s interesting, I thought. Nothing should be printed today. I got up from my desk and walked to the pressroom, finding it empty and quiet. Was it just my imagination? I wondered.
And then a figure walked across the back of the room and into the building's old dark room, now in the digital age not in use anymore. It was probablly the press operator, a man named Carlos. But why would he walk into the dark room, which now was nothing but darkness and clutter. I called to him.
I walked passed the press and followed him into the dark room. I called again: “Carlos.” Again, no answer.
I turned on the light. The room was empty. He couldn’t have gone elsewhere, because there was only one door, and I was standing in its entryway.
Had I just witnessed a residual haunting in the historic building, or was it strictly my imagination? Whether it was paranormal or not, I figured there were ghosts here anyway – in the paper’s archives where the stories of people past and present seemed just as fresh as the day they came off the presses. In that way their memories live on, their ghosts speak from a bygone era.
But there are other stories about old Magna and the alleged ghosts that roam here, real ghosts that offer very real frights ...
Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016
Thank you for what you brought to the world, Prince - for sharing your wonderful talent with us. And most especially, thank you for bringing joy, entertainment, hope and ambition to my life. You are missed, but you've created a legacy that will live on in your music ... and in my heart and mind.
Chances are if you read haunted histories and tales of ghosts and strange phenomena, you also like horror novels. That's how it is in my case, anyway. So what I want to know is this: Do you have a favorite horror novel? If so, what is it? It's always difficult for me to just pick one favorite, so I picked five. I thought I's share them with you:
_You've heard of the phenomenal play by Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera, but have you read the classic tale from which the play is based? Sorry Webber, but as much as I like your play and its fantastic music, Leroux's novel is still my favorite. In fact, not Webber's version nor any of the movies allegedly based on the classic story even come close to being a true adaptation of Leroux's masterpiece. It's not a perfect book, but I love the atmosphere, characters, scenes and sense of journalistic realism in this tale of love and loss. It's a true classic well worth your time reading it.
_There have been a lot of movies based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, but not any of them are true adaptations of this masterpiece, either. They all have elements, and perhaps Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is closest, but you can't get any better than the novel. It contains some very creepy parts, which are best read before bed but with all the lights turned on in the house.
_Stephen King has been scaring generations of readers with his tales of the macabre, and one of his best is also one of his earliest novels. 'Salem's Lot, another vampires' tale inspired by Stoker's count, was King's second book. Again, the two movies based on the story -- one theatrical, the other TV-based -- do not do the book justice. The first movie made in the 1970s is more in line with the novel than the latter version, but the book is best because of King's character development, atmosphere, and the creepy descriptions of the town known as Jerusalem's Lot. A creepy prequel to the story, which interestingly lacks any mention of vampires, can be found in King's story collection, Night Shift.
_You can't judge a King book by its movie. The books are always better. King makes my list again with a much longer novel called It. Again, it's the author's character development that make his books so worthwhile, even if you are reading a spook story. I found this novel very spooky, but there's also a high level of expert writing in it from a guy who honed his craft over a number of years and numerous books, many of them lengthy tomes. If you're up for a good but long read, you should give It a try.
_Scott Nicholson became one of my favorite thriller writers after I read his first novel, The Red Church, back in the late 1990s. It's an Appalachian tale of great sin, the evil of a small town and, of course, its mysterious Red Church. It's a must-read for horror fans by a journalist-turned-novelist who has written numerous creepy yarns over the past two decades or so. Check out Nicholson at Barnes & Noble and Amazon to learn more about his books. The Red Church will get you hooked.
Now it's your turn? Tell me some of your favorite horror novels.
I had a book signing today at Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls and met some really nice people. I had fun talking with customers and enjoyed signing many copies of my books for readers. Four of the titles were on display and my three Idaho titles sold well.I sold out of Ghosts of Idaho's Magic Valley.
One of the things I enjoy about book signings, besides talking with people in general, is chatting with young people. It always excites me when I learn of young people who like or are interested in my books, and I met a couple of them today. I always wish I had more time to talk about books and the writing process with them, but before you know it it's time to move on to the next customer.
To everyone who came out, old or young, who took the time to stop by and chat with me and for those who purchased copies of my book, whether for yourself or a friend or family member, I appreciate you spending time and money on one of my titles. We live in a world where many things vie for our attention. I'm only one voice in a world of millions, but I hope you feel that the time and expense was worth it.
I also give a huge shout-out to the management team and employees at Barnes & Noble, all of whom I consider good friends. I receive tremendous support from them and appreciate all their efforts on my behalf as an author. I appreciate them so much so that I acknowledged them in my Forgotten Tales of Idaho book.
I hope before too long to be in Utah for some book signings, and hopefully in other areas of Idaho in the coming months.
I recently finished reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. It’s a good read and, like most classic novels, develops the story slowly. He spends a lot of time on the principal characters of the book, getting the reader into their psyches. I’ve always liked Hawthorne and have appreciated his style. This novel also made me very much interested in the house on which the book is based.
The house located in Salem, Ma., was built in 1668 by a sea captain and merchant named John Turner, and remained in the Turner family for three generations. Later, a cousin of Hawthorne lived in the house for a time, and Nathaniel's visits to the house inspired him to write the now-classic novel. Today it is a visitor center and museum with plumbing that allegedly has a mind of its own. It has been reported that faucets will turn on and off on their own.
A spirit, assumed to be that of a little boy, also likes to play in the attic, according to some accounts. He has been heard in those nether regions by more than one person. The image of a ghost boy’s face is believed to have been captured in a picture taken at the house. A small boy is at a window looking out into the courtyard and, supposedly, at the photographer. Apparitions and shadow figures also have been reported seen in the more than three-century home. A woman’s spirit, believed to be a former owner, walks its premises, sometimes showing herself as a full apparition to unsuspecting visitors before quickly vanishing back to the spirit realm.
The House of the Seven Gables is definitely on my list of places to visit. To learn more about the house and its interesting history, more about Salem and all that there is to see at this interesting place in the Bay State, check out the 7Gables website.
Before you plan a visit, however, make sure to read Hawthorne’s classic tale of centuries-old sin that, according to the novel, stained the mansion house in a town known for its historic witch trials.
I always appreciate reader feedback, and am happy whenever I find out someone likes what I've written. But I also appreciate the feedback of those who might not have enjoyed my books as others have. Sometimes that feedback is fair, but other times it is not.
I've read some reviews by readers who didn't much like a book of mine and judged it by a standard in which the title clearly fails. For instance, one reader said he thought one of my titles would dive deep into regional history. But that was never the intent or aim of the book. If you want big history, pick up a big history book.
But again, I appreciate any and all feedback, though it's always human nature to enjoy the positives ones more. Luckily, most of the reviews of my work have been positive, and for that I am grateful.
Thanks for reading.