Interview & Review: #Hauntings, #Spirits, & Eats #Michigan by Kathy Conder

Today, I’m chatting with Kathy Conder about her debut book, Hauntings, Spirits, & Eats Michigan.

Seasoned paranormal investigator, Kathy Conder draws on her experience with the paranormal to highlight different locations throughout Michigan that are reportedly haunted.  She includes restaurants, pubs, and hotels for those travelers who want to add a little paranormal spice to their trips.  Each establishment is listed by its location in the state and offers readers the history and hauntings connected to each.  For those who are interested in exploring the mysterious world of the paranormal, this book is a great starting point for planning your next Michigan trip.

Q & A

CHRISTINA: Thanks for joining me today. Share a bit of your background before we delve more into your book.

KATHY: I was a Zoology major in college. I wrote for my university paper and have written articles on the paranormal for other publications. This is the first time I have written a book.

CHRISTINA: Tell us about your new book.

KATHY: As director for a paranormal group, I am often asked where the haunted places are in Michigan. I decided that by writing a book, I could list places that I knew in an organized format that was user-friendly. I would also be able to include some history on each location and my personal experiences if there were any. While I loved the idea of basing the book on Michigan’s “haunted hot spots,” I didn’t want it to read like a road atlas. People love a good story – especially a scary one and I had lots to share!

CHRISTINA: What inspired you to write this book?

KATHY: For some reason, I felt the timing was right. I was still somewhat reluctant to begin and even more so, admit to friends and family that I had. That meant I was accountable. It was official. Once I made that commitment, the rest was easier. I had days where the words flowed and others where I stalled and sat on the floor assembling Lego sets for the grandkids. The most important thing to me was to complete the book. I did and for me it will always be a symbol of my accomplishment.

CHRISTINA: What kind of research did you do?

KATHY: Most of my research is done on the job. I admit that I find myself in more than my share of reportedly haunted places, studying and exploring. What I have learned over the years has been through my experiences. Evidence of paranormal activity is often anecdotal. There is, as of now, no scientific evidence to prove its existence. I do extensive research on the history of different locations since hauntings can often be related to what occurred there in the past. For that information, I have found the local historical societies are a valuable resource. Local libraries and on-line sources have a wealth of information as well.

CHRISTINA: What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

KATHY: Writing is hard!

CHRISTINA: How long did you take to write the book?

KATHY: I think it was a year-long process.

CHRISTINA: Describe your writing space.

KATHY: I write at my husband’s grandmother’s desk. I have surrounded myself with things that make me happy. I tried hard to make it my own. I find that once I sit in that space, my mind seems to switch to writing-mode.

CHRISTINA: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

KATHY: Disciplining myself. Doubting myself. I tend to second-guess a lot!

CHRISTINA: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

KATHY: I don’t think it is interesting, but I have found music to be extremely grounding. From day to day, the music varies with my moods. I thought it might be distracting but it is the opposite. It helps me to focus.

CHRISTINA: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

KATHY: Both, equally!

CHRISTINA: What advice would you give to new writers – someone just starting out?

KATHY: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Writing is a learning process. Set up a writing schedule and stick to it, even you don’t get much written.

CHRISTINA: Where can we learn more about you and your book?

KATHY: You can find my book, Hauntings, Spirits, & Eats Michigan on Amazon and Goodreads, and you can find me on Michigan Paranormal Encounters on Facebook.

MY REVIEW

Kathy has done a great job researching over eighty haunted places in Michigan—lighthouses, inns, pubs, museums and more. I enjoyed reading the history of the sites as well as Kathy’s personal accounts as a paranormal investigator with thirty-eight years of experience. The perfect road trip book for all things spooky and historical in Michigan.

The 8th Annual One Acts Festival

I submitted my one act play back in December. Last week, the Allegan Community Players announced the lineup for the festival:

Purple Roses by Christina Thompson

Potential by Scott Mullen

The Band Currently Known as the Apaches by Les Abromovitz

I’m in! A first for me. I’m honored. What’s even crazier is that those characters are from my Chemical Attraction Series, which is set in a town based on Allegan.

The play was originally a short story. The scene takes place at Sylvia’s Bed & Breakfast, modeled after the Delano Mansion Inn in Allegan’s downtown area. The scene is a prequel to Chemical Attraction—before my main characters Joe Roberts and Madeline Pierce actually meet and fall in love. While mourning the death of her husband, Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia focuses on getting Joe and Madeline in the same room at the same time. The conversations of loneliness between Joe and Sylvia and then between Madeline and Sylvia break my heart.

Sylvia has become one of my favorite secondary characters in my series. In fact, I’m in the process of writing a new novel where she’s the main character trying to navigate in a world without her husband.

My head knows these characters are a figment of my imagination, but my heart knows their emotions are real. It’ll be strange to see these people, who have been in my life for so many years, become tangible on stage at the Griswold Auditorium, which I have also referenced in my series.

In Chemical Attraction, a fundraiser is held in the lower level of the Griswold. (I call it the Hartford though.) Then, in Chemical Reaction, a couple characters hide in the backstage area.

What a surreal experience this will be! I may cry. No, I guarantee I will cry. I’m aware the director may change the props and dialogue; this is a collaborative project after all, but I believe the emotions of the scenes will stay true.

If you’ve enjoyed my Chemical Attraction Series, this is a must see. Please, join me. I’ll be the one sobbing before the festival even starts.

Friday, April 22nd at 7 pm

Saturday, April 23rd at 7 pm

Sunday, April 24th at 2 pm

Griswold Auditorium

401 Hubbard Street

Allegan, MI 49010

All tickets are $5 at the door.

For more information, visit the Allegan Community Players.

For more information on my series, visit The Chemical Attraction Series on Amazon.

A Steamy Kiss

… Joe spun Madeline around and the song ended. As he dipped her low, her long brown hair brushed the floor. With his face a few inches from hers, she was panting. Lost in his vibrant green eyes, she lifted her head and kissed him. She barely touched his lips, but the nerve endings in hers sent an electrical shock throughout her body. A wave of heat followed. Her body lit up with awareness as if a bolt of lightning shot out from her toes …  ~ Chemical Attraction

“…the Perfect Mix of Mystery, Suspense & Romance…”

Chemical Attraction on AMAZON

Chemical Attraction AUDIOBOOK on AUDIBLE

New Year’s Eve Romance

To celebrate my December 31st birthday, my New Year’s Eve romance, The Garden Collection, is on SALE for $0.99 until 12/31/19.  In this story, Robert Donovan learns that home is where his heart is.

THE GARDEN COLLECTION on AMAZON

I took a single defining moment from my childhood to create a story with the theme about the energy of words and how they affect us. You can read that embarrassing story here.

A few words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime.

Robert and Brianna’s childhood friendship grew into respect for each other and their ideas.  Robert gave her the confidence to stand up for herself.  Brianna helped him see his artistic potential and encouraged him to travel for his inspiration.  He found it in the letters she wrote.

BRIANNA CARLSON, an optimistic realist, appreciates the little things in life.  Working at the local diner in their wintry rural town in West Michigan, she pushes the stress of caring for her half-sister, CHLOE, aside focusing instead on the unconditional love she gives and receives.

Her best friend’s brother, ROBERT DONOVAN, regally proper and polished, balances his business acumen with his artwork for his family’s jewelry store.

In THE GARDEN COLLECTION, a Cinderella-esque romance, Brianna receives news that her abusive step-father will be released from prison.  She’s terrified he’ll come back to hurt Chloe this time.  She decides to leave town.

After traveling the world, Robert returns home and discovers Brianna had lied in every letter she sent.  She never received any of his. Before he can demand answers, she disappears without Chloe.  As Robert learns about Brianna’s life during his absence, he sets out to find her and convince her to trust him again.

Grab a copy of The Garden Collection, write a review, and/or share this post.  I appreciate your support. Thank you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Back into the Fray

Although we returned home refreshed, the first week back from our vacation was hectic—catching up on laundry, meal prep, our playful puppy, my Freebie Friday promo, work…  You get the idea.  I think it’s like that for most of us after having time off, right?

While I made headway on my first draft at the cabin, I had a tough time focusing on my writing at home.  Missing the sounds along the river, I tried playing my videos on a loop in the background.  It’s not the same, but it is close enough until our next trip to Manistee.  Listen below and let me know what you think.

 

 

My view of the Little Manistee River near Manistee, Michigan.  Read more about our stay on a previous post: Zane’s Landing: a writer’s paradise

Zane’s Landing: a writer’s paradise

For our 30th Anniversary, our children gifted us with a vacation in a cabin near Manistee, Michigan. Andrea found it on Airbnb and sent me the link way back in March. Well, I scrutinized every detail of the pictures and read all the reviews. Could it be that wonderful?

Spoiler: Yes. Yes, it was. It exceeded our expectations.

About five miles before we reached the cabin, we had no cell service. I knew this going in and prepared a map ahead of time. Frankly, after the first day of cell phone detox, I embraced not using it except to take pictures.

We arrived and were thrilled with the cozy place. Lilac and woodsy scents greeted us. A gift basket filled with nuts, crackers, chocolate, and two cans of Birdwalker Blonde from local StormCloud Brewing Company welcomed us.

The two-bedroom cabin had an attached screen porch, a deck, and a fire pit nearby.

Beyond the rustic wooden gate, steps and boardwalk lead us to a screened shelter next to the Little Manistee River known for its Brown Trout and Steelhead. Farther along the bank, we found another fire pit, chairs, and pile of wood.

With all the amazing places on the grounds, I didn’t know where to sit and write first. My husband, Kraig, loves to fish so he was in heaven planning his attack. I had shade, no bugs around me, and a comfy chair. I was near enough to Kraig to throw out a “ooh” and “aah” once in a while at his fishing prowess.

With my notebook and pen on my lap, my mind focused more on the chirping birds, rustling underbrush, and flowing river. I gave myself permission to meditate the first day and soak it all in. Just listening and breathing.

I counted twenty-one chairs throughout the cabin and property each with an inspiring view. (I only sat in five spots during the week.) For the next few days, my notebook filled up fast. At night, Kraig read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files while I continued to write. The TV remained off.

Many birds visited us and we identified them from the Birds of Michigan Field Guide found on my nightstand: a Baltimore Oriole, a Goldfinch, a huge Pileated Woodpecker, and a Bald Eagle.

Although Kraig and I did our own thing near each other, (I think it’s called Parallel Play) we still talked about our past, our future, and our dream to retire to a place like this someday.

As you can tell, I highly recommend Zane’s Landing. (By the way, the first draft of my next novel is almost complete.) Michael and Lindsay, thank you for hosting us.

SIX STARS OUT OF FIVE

Andrea and David, thank you for this thoughtful gift. We love you so much and would love to have you join us next time. Believe me when I say, there will be a next time.

 

Book your vacation at Zane’s Landing.

You will not be disappointed!

 

New Year’s Home

Born on December 31st, I was considered “Daddy’s Little Deduction”.  (I’m glad as a baby I could help the family out. Ha.)  To celebrate my birthday this year, my New Year’s Eve romance, The Garden Collection, is on SALE for $0.99 until 1/3/19.  In this story, Robert Donovan learns that home is where his heart is.

Please grab your copy, write a review, and/or share this post.  I appreciate your help getting the word out. Thank you.

THE GARDEN COLLECTION on AMAZON

A few words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime.

Robert and Brianna’s childhood friendship grew into respect for each other and their ideas.  Robert gave her the confidence to stand up for herself.  Brianna helped him see his artistic potential and encouraged him to travel for his inspiration.  He found it in the letters she wrote.

BRIANNA CARLSON, an optimistic realist, appreciates the little things in life.  Working at the local diner in their wintry rural town in West Michigan, she pushes the stress of caring for her half-sister, CHLOE, aside focusing instead on the unconditional love she gives and receives.

Her best friend’s brother, ROBERT DONOVAN, regally proper and polished, balances his business acumen with his artwork for his family’s jewelry store.

In THE GARDEN COLLECTION, a Cinderella-esque romance, Brianna receives news that her abusive step-father will be released from prison.  She’s terrified he’ll come back to hurt Chloe this time.  She decides to leave town.

After traveling the world, Robert returns home and discovers Brianna had lied in every letter she sent.  She never received any of his. Before he can demand answers, she disappears without Chloe.  As Robert learns about Brianna’s life during his absence, he sets out to find her and convince her to trust him again.

MICHIGAN AUTHORS at the Lakeshore

I’ll be joining these amazing Michigan authors August 4th in Holland.  Although excited, I’m a bit anxious.  I seem to have a knack for awkward small talk.

You can help me by mentioning this post and asking about any of my characters.  I love talking about them.  As a THANK YOU, you’ll receive $5 off any one of my books.

Want a preview of my novels?

I hope to see you there.

The Birds of Winter

cardinal-2

Today, I’m featuring a short story written by my brother, James. I’d like to think my passion for writing is rubbing off on him…

 

The Birds of Winter

By James Bennett

I knew returning to Michigan was going to be hard. Under these circumstances perhaps even harder. It had just started to snow as I arrived at my mother’s house. A gust of cold wind blew across my neck as I made my way to the door. She was ready with a glass of wine and a deck of cards hoping to make up some lost time. It’s been tough for her since her father died two months ago. Especially on Sunday when we used to gather for the traditional family dinner.

We sat down at the kitchen table and had time for a few games before my brother and sisters arrived. “Gin again,” my mother said as she slapped down her cards. I had never quite got the hang of the game she taught us when we were kids. She left me there to shuffle the cards as she journeyed to refill her drink.

Just then a cloud passed overhead and cast a shadow on the room. When I glanced outside I noticed a bright red Cardinal staring at me from the feeder. I was mesmerized by his flickering motion and instantly transported on a memory to my grandfather’s house. I was six years old standing perfectly still in a foot of snow with my arms outstretched. Wrapped in a faded purple snowsuit that was handed down from my sister, I waited patiently.

I remember my grandfather telling me that if I was perfectly still, they would come. And as the minutes passed, standing there trying not to shiver from the cold, they came. I was hypnotized by the movement, watching them dart back and forth. I could see them jump around on the different feeders hanging from the small maple tree. They would jump from a branch to the feeder and back again waiting for their turn. Sometimes they would light in the huge black walnut tree just down the hill and sometimes they would seem to appear out of nowhere. I knew each type of bird. My mother and grandfather both taught me the difference between Sparrows, Wrens, Finches and a dozen others.

Finally, it happened. First a Chickadee, then another, then a Wren and two sparrows. They took turns hopping in and out of my hands taking a bit of seed each time. Their tiny feet felt like snowflakes dancing in my hand. I’ve never felt closer to nature.

“What are you staring at?” my mother said as she returned with her drink.

“I was just remembering when grandpa taught us how the birds could eat out of our hands.”

“I haven’t thought about that for years. What made you think of that?”

“I just noticed the birds outside on your feeder. Do they stick around all winter?”

“Of course,” she said.

“But, don’t most birds migrate for the winter? What makes these stay though the harsh bitter cold months?”

“Well, because, this is their home and this is where their families are.” After a moment, we both smiled at each other.

“Now deal the cards,” she said.

xxx

Thanks again for stopping by. Did you enjoy the story?

Let James know in the comments.

Happy 2017—a Year of Kindness & Encouragement!