Haunted Fort Delaware – Delaware

This week we are traveling to the North into Delaware, one of the first states to be settled. We’ve talked about strange monsters that lurk in the woods, creepy hotels, and haunted prisons, but today, we travel to a military base.

Fort Delaware has been inactive for a while now, but that only means it doesn’t serve as a harbor defense facility. It is definitely active with lots of paranormal activity. The military has own Peas Patch Island since the 1810s. They seized the land from a person named Doctor Gale, who had been using the space as his own personal hunting grounds.

The French would then build the fort in order to protect the state from the Confederates and other types of enemies. Captain Samuel Babcock, in 1812, oversaw the work to make the fort stronger. They strategically placed seawalls and dikes, and they started building the star fort in 1817.

However, because of damage and other delays, the construction took a lot longer to finish than what was originally expected. Captain Delafield created the second version of the fort, which is the pentagonal one that remains there today, between 1848 and 1859 even though they didn’t declare it as finished until 1868.

Today, it is believed that Fort Delaware is one of the most haunted areas in the state, and its dungeons are probably the most active area. Prisoners were kept there without any water or beds. They were forced to sleep on the floor along with the filth and vermin, so it’s safe to say that disease and death were very common.

During the Civil War, the Fort went from protector to prison, and the prison became home to Confederate prisons, along with convicted federal soldiers, and local political prisoners. The first prisoners were held in empty powder magazines, sealed off casements, and two small rooms in the sally port. You can still see the names of Confederate soldiers carved in the walls of those rooms. Brigadier General Johnston Pettigrew was the first Confederate general to be housed there. Throughout the war, around a dozen generals were held captive there.

They eventually built barracks and a hospital on the grounds. One set of barracks was for the Confederate POWs and the other was for Union soldiers who stood guard over the POWs. Most of the Confederates who were captured during the battle of Gettysburg were held here.

By the end of the war, the fort had held around 33,000 prisoners. Of those, about 2,500 died. A smallpox outbreak in 1863 killed 272 of the prisoners. Lung inflammation killed 243. Various types of diahrrea killed 315. Around 215 prisoners died from malaria and/or typhoid. Other causes of death included erysipelas (47), pneumonia (61), and scurvy (70). Five of the prisoners drowned and seven others were shot to death. Also, 109 Union soldiers died on the grounds, as well as 40 civilians.

A lot of people have said that they have noticed shadow figures and full-body apparitions in the dungeons and it is very common to hear voices echoing throughout the halls. Some people have even heard chains rattling.

A team of ghost hunters has even gathered quite a bit of spooky evidence from the space. It was featured on their show, “Ghost Hunters.” They caught a thermal image of a person peeking around a corner at them. One of the investigators can be seen being pulled back in some of their video clips, which you can find online. He said that something was pulling on his jacket when this happened. You can also hear the sound of chains echoing throughout the dungeon as well. Shadowy figures can also be seen darting around the space.

If you’re brave enough, you can take a tour of Fort Delaware. It’s three hours long and happens rain or shine. The only way it will be canceled is if the weather makes it dangerous for boat travel.

The Winstead Wildman – Connecticut

For this week’s haunted story, we are going to venture up to Connecticut. This isn’t a haunted place or ghost sighting. Instead, we’re going to learn about the Bigfoot of Connecticut.

Connecticut has its very own Bigfoot known as the Winstead Wildman who has terrorized the citizens are two different occasions, which took place 80 years apart. Everything started back in August 1895 with a report from the “Winstead Herald.” Somebody had reported seeing “a large man, stark naked, and covered with hair all over his body, ran out of a clump of bushes.”

Riley Smith, the town selectman, witnesses this. He and his dog were out in the woods while he picked berries when this creature came out of nowhere. Both he and his dog was badly frightened. He said the man was six feet tall and that he was covered in thick black hair. During the following two weeks, the creature was seen by two others. Their descriptions matched up with Smith’s.

The “Winstead Herald” stated that the creature could have been that of an escaped mental patient from Litchfield Sanitarium, known as Arthur Beckwith. But, as quickly as they started, the sightings stopped and the Winstead Wildman disappeared back into the woods, at least for a while.

In late July 1972, nearly eight decades later, two young men saw a strange creature near Crystal Lake Reservoir. They said the creature was nearly eight feet tall and covered in hair. People suggested it could have been a bear, but they assured them that it most definitely wasn’t. The Wildman was seen again two years later. This time he was seen around Rugg Brook Reservoir. The couple who spotted him said he was six feet tall and around 300 pounds, covered in dark hair. After this report, he has not been spotted again.

Whether or not people actually saw this hairy creature, or it was a figment of their imagination, remains to be seen. The only way we will know if the Winstead Wildman really exists is if he comes out of the woods to share his side of the story. 

Comedic Inspiration – 5 Tips

This week we are going to look at some ways to find inspiration for comedy. I haven’t written a lot of comedy stories myself, but I say dumb things and people laugh, so there’s that.

Comedy isn’t something that should be overanalyzed. You don’t have to look deep into the human psyche to figure out what makes them tick in order to make them laugh. In fact, the less you try, the better chance you have of making a person laugh, or at least chuckle.

Comedy is a double-edged sword, though. You could create something that makes the first 100 readers pee their pants, and then the next reader could find it as dull as a spoon. But that’s just the horrors of writing.

Let’s look at five tips to help you find some inspiration to write that funny story:

  • People Watch

Some of the best inspiration a person can find is within the lives of others. Head to the mall or park and watch people around you for a bit. See if anything fun jumps out at you that is so hilarious that you have to write about it.

  • Think About Your Day

Take a moment to think about the things you did throughout the day. Find something that you found funny and write about it. Maybe one of your co-workers said or did something funny. Maybe you tripped walking up the stairs. You never know where inspiration may strike. Another option would be to keep a journal and write down things as they happen so that you don’t run the risk of forgetting them.

  • Look at Your Phone Contacts

Scroll through the contacts on your phone and see if anybody on the list reminds you of something funny that has happened to you. You can also take a scroll through your social media friends to see if anything shakes some funny cobwebs loose.

  • Look at Trending Hashtags

Jump on Twitter or Instagram and take a look at some trending hashtags. They may be able to spark some inspiration. If they don’t, make them. Take one of the hashtags, whether or not it is funny, and make it funny. It may not be a story that you want to share, but it can get the creative juices flowing.

  • Look at Family Photos

Look through some old photo albums to see if you can find some comedic inspiration. I’m sure if you dig far enough back, you are going to find somebody wearing a plaid pair of pants or somebody with a beehive hairdo. You never know what you are going to find in a photo album. You can also pick out your favorite picture and turn it into a story. This should help to shake some other ideas loose as well.

That’s it for the tips. Try out some, or all, of these tips and see what you can come up with in the funny story department. Who knows, maybe you might create the next great American novel.

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I’ll take A Midsummer Night’s Dreamover Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.”
― Stephen King

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Best Way to Develop and Build Characters

Welcome to the first post of 2019. I hope your holidays were fantastic.

I’m starting off the year by talking about characters. You can’t have a story without characters. No matter how hard you try, there are going to characters, human or not. Even if there is just a person describing a scene, that narrator is a character.

Stories have characters (duh obviously) but it can be difficult to create well-rounded characters that people enjoy reading. The key part of any character is to make them human. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be human, they just have to act like a human. That means they have human ideas and characterizations and the like. They are driven by beliefs and dreams.

One of my favorite blog posts about character development is The Writing Cooperative article, How to Create Authentic and Powerful Fictional Characters written by Valerie Black. Click the link to read. It’s a good read.

As with the article I just shared, there are lots of archetypes for your main protagonist, which I will probably dedicate a blog to later on. For this blog, we are going to look more at how to build a character.

What’s in a name?

The first thing you need to do is figure out a name. Coming up with a cast list for your book is a good idea. As a rule of thumb, try to make your names as pronounceable as possible. Also, the names need to fit with your story. If you’re writing a story set in 17th century England, the name Payton is going to fit very well.

Now, I know, coming up with names can be difficult. It’s like naming a child. You want to make sure it works for them when they first come to fruition and when you write their last line. When push comes to shove, you can always use source material. Search online, grab a book, magazine, whatever you have around you to find names. Be careful not to accidentally use the same names in different stories that aren’t meant to have the same characters.

Another tip for names and this isn’t something that I do, but it is a good idea. Write out a long list of possible names for your story that way you will have some if a new character were to pop up. You never know when a random person will appear in your story.

But what will I wear?

Names are fine and dandy, but you still have to know what your character looks like. You need to know things like their age, height, weight, eye color, hair color, race, all those things.

It’s easy to come up with your character based on their social and educational status. The trick comes when they are from specific locals. If you are writing about people in Atlanta, Georgia, you need to know how those people act and speak. Unless you are going for something funny, you want to try to avoid stereotypes of what you think people sound like. That’s where research comes in.

Putting it all together.

You’re going to have characters that come together easily you know them down to their blood type. Then there will be others that you just have a mental image of. No matter how detailed you have your characters, you have to make sure you know them. If you don’t know them, you can’t convey their story. This is especially true if you write in a POV.

One great way to get to know your characters is to answer a bunch of questions from their point of view. This will put you in their mind so that you get to the essence of who they are.

Are they important?

Lastly, you have to figure out if the character gives to your story. Ask yourself what each of your characters mean to your story. This should be something you do for every character, no matter how long or short their time is in your story. All characters should grab your reader’s attention.

If a character isn’t adding something to your story, get them the hell out of there. It’s better to lose a character than make your readers stumble through a scene with confusing characters.

Now, this is by no means the end all be all information for character development. These are just three tips that can help you get started. We will look at more character development information in coming blog posts. But this should get you started.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.