Ever Interview a Ghost?

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book?

Disclosed yesterday was the massive amount of time involved in searching the internet for names, places, and details noted in my grandfather’s manuscripts. So obviously, the internet played a major role as it confirmed that of which he wrote, but beyond that pointed in directions that would include interesting contacts–or locations worthy of physical inspection.

Yesterday I mentioned travel for scouting locations that would have interest in these particular historical narratives or mining exploits and locations–some still functioning towns–some merely ghost towns. Goldfield Hotel

One of the interviews that stands out in my mind was the accidental interview we did with the owner of a vintage shop directly across from the Goldfield Hotel and next door to the Goldfield Consolidated Mining Company. She was retelling the story of Elizabeth, the favorite prostitute of George Wingfield and the modern day encounter of an accountant’s unfortunate meeting with her ghost who warned that she “was in danger and to leave immediately.”

Elizabeth was said to become pregnant by Wingfield who for a time paid her to stay away. He later lured her into room 109 where he chained her to a radiator, kept her in food and water, until she (according to one account) died in childbirth. The baby was then thrown into an old mining shaft. Rumors abound that Elizabeth can still be heard in the halls crying for her baby and that the sounds of a crying child can sometimes be heard from the “depths” of the hotel.

There have been so many sightings and other unexplained phenomena at the hotel that it has gained wide media attention and has been featured on Fox Family TV’s World’s Scariest Places. In addition, it has also been the subject of a couple of paranormal investigation television series, including Ghost Adventures in 2004, 2011 and 2013, and Ghost Hunters in 2008.

Interviews with people associated with venues cited in his manuscripts have both been rewarding and eye-opening and certainly the greatest impetus in the development of the manuscripts.

Virginia Williams

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What Was The Research Process?

Day 10 of the Author Blog Challenge: What was your research process?

More than likely, even the most prosaic of fiction books will require at least a modicum of research. Historical fiction probably requires scads of investigation.

Sailing into “Cocos Island Treasure,” the first manuscript chosen for publication, I spent a LOT of time researching the internet, first discovering there really was such a place!

The journey has been fascinating because unfortunately he passed away before I could ever pick his brain about his youth; his sailing adventures, his mining or exploration adventures, or his actual birth location for that matter.

I would have benefited hearing about all these exciting tropical locales wherein he apparently enjoyed some pearl diving as well as hunting for pirate treasures. As I recently posted regarding pirate treasures on Cocos Island, William Thompson purportedly loaded one of the largest pirate treasure troves aboard the Mary Dear in Peru in 1820. He and his crew killed the Spanish guards and buried the treasure said to be worth well over $160,000,000 (now known as “The Loot of Lima”).Goldfield Consolidated

Each book after that, because they are classified as historical fiction, mandated many, many hours of research, either because of the location of adventures, the names contained in the plots, or the procedures or practices of his day–especially with his narration of the capture and rendering of whales.

Probably the most time spent researching was the fourth book, “Hot Air Promotions,” which involved the penny mining stocks of the twenties and thirties. It was HUGE! The language of the stock market, the mines, the business practices and papers, and the people–how could you ever win? And I quote, “When you win, you lose.”

The most fun, however, in the examination of the chronicles of the mines was chasing down the locations–many now ghost towns–some still thriving with history reading stranger than fiction. You can’t make this stuff up! I discovered that the University of Nevada, Reno, maintains a massive library containing the history of gold, silver, and mineral mines of the west–where they gladly accepted a copy of the book. Goldfield, (NV) a former mining town, enjoys many a chilling ghost story that contains notorious names included in the book as well. Belmont Metals

The odyssey has been a lesson in history: Of places, people, and practices. As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Virginia Williams

The School of Hard Knocks

The School of Hard Knocks

Besides writing, when I was a little girl I wanted to be an opera singer. I could hit the high notes and often walked home from school practicing “my opera”. Married and in Sacramento when our local church organized a choir, I was one of the first to show up–never having had any formal training other than a choir class in my sophomore year of high school (hmm, so would have been Yreka CA) and given our propensity for moving, that didn’t last long. Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I had no clue what “S, A, T, B” stood for but I knew I wanted to be part of the music program.

When our church members were invited to sing for the “Jazz Mass”, part of the annual celebration in the Sacramento Jazz Festival, I didn’t hesitate. The program, however, turned out to be a whole nother level of choir music with a priest who REALLY had an ear and knew his music and was known to clue into a voice out of key in a company of 100 and throw a pencil at them. But like any director who creates a masterful program, he was not only tolerated but venerated as he produced programs worthy of standing O’s. We always came back for more–praying we’d never go off key. That experience was part and parcel of my “gospel” years–and I truly reveled in singing those gospel songs–many at the top of my lungs as I participated in the MLK Workshop in Sacramento with goose-bump raising, powerful music.

When we moved to Idaho and I learned that the Gospel Jubilee was not only looking for sKaty and Iopranos but someone to work in the office creating flyers, I was the first to apply–only to learn he used Print Shop. (I’d taken a class in Photoshop.) Still, the singing was wonderful, fun, and creative and I learned a LOT about Print Shop!

So it probably comes as no additional surprise that I haven’t had a lot in the way of formal writing classes. I’ve alluded previously to finding and reading one of my early manuscripts I found so atrocious it was tossed with little fanfare and no regrets. Writing articles became the writing salvation and later the publishing of my grandfather’s manuscripts. I’ve learned a lot! Been through each book a dozen times, eyes crossed and glazed, turning page after page looking for more problems.

English classes may not have been as exciting for me as choir, but I’m from a spelling and cursive generation raised on Erma Bombeck and Abby. And I continue to seek out educational, dynamically progressive groups in which I may learn more of the craft in which so many participants are willing to share. Apparently, I’ve found it.

Please support another Author Blog Challenge participant by checking out Beth Kozan’s blog at http://bethkozan.com/.

When Have I NOT Been Writing?

When Have I NOT Been Writing?

I envy those people who can remember something that happened when they were five with a twinkle in their eyes and a lop-sided grin produced by the nostalgia of the memory. My husband is one of those. For me, it’s not a loss of memory due to age–I don’t consider myself that old. Albert and I

   So I count on stories, pictures, or one of a handful of memories in a childhood spent moving several times a year looking for greener pastures in what would today be considered poverty–we just knew we were poor. The picture is from a newspaper article on reading of myself when I was 8 and my beloved brother (lost during the Viet Nam conflict). It starts with a love and respect of books.

There is another picture (heaven knows where) of myself receiving an award for winning a story writing contest–think it was Red Bluff CA–so would have been a number of years later. Perhaps this was the glimmer my grandfather saw in me. My teacher must have seen something as well as she submitted it to the local paper. Bless her heart.

I’ve had compliments from letter recipients and seldom lacked the ability to pen a story when it was required–but formally? Having majored in the man who would become my husband (now 53 years) in college , I was probably fortunate to attain the diploma I did. mag_pic_sm

As mentioned before, it was during my riding years that I began writing stories for various motorcycling magazines, though mainly the WOW  (Women On Wheels(c)) Magazine. I probably wrote better than I rode, but it was a way to work on my writing chops!

When I discovered my grandfather’s manuscripts and a way to publish them then, it was a natural. It’s good I don’t have to do this for a living–it’s a happy commitment in my retirement–and with any luck one that will continue to grow and provide reward.

And reward doesn’t always have to include dollar signs!

AUTHOR COMMUNITIES-Do They Really Promote YOUR Book?

          Ezine Articles

         Once again, venturing out into the community to put a spin on the marketing of my grandfather’s books, I’ve discovered a local author support group they call the Idaho Author Community.

It amazes me how apparently mystical guidance has led me from publishing several of his manuscripts to marketing and promotion in the public sector when the initial purpose of the first publication was merely to distribute the work to his heirs. That proverbial snowball has led to even more open portals which were there all along and available by simple participation. I think at one point the gentle nudge on my back was felt–propelling me through the first door, into the second, and now the third–an author community–which may be the most enlightening of all.

Comprised of all ages, both sexes (not unsurprisingly, women pen prose just as well as men), and across all genres, this support group is a happy, homogenous surprise to a life long realist–this [..→] shy of being a pessimist. Does participation in an author community spark competition conflict? Or does the participation force an increase in those most needed exposures where a normally reticent introvert would never tread? Keep Reading!