Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tales Told Around the Campfire

As fall looms on the proverbial horizon, my thoughts turn to pumpkins and Halloween. Telling tales around a campfire on a chilly fall evening still evokes memories of my childhood. When I was a kid, the thing to do when camping out was to sit around the campfire after dark and try to scare each other with spooky tales. During these infrequent but memorable evenings, the stories ranged from mildly eerie to downright chilling, depending on the teller. I remember one storyteller bringing props to add to the effect. Once it was a surgical glove, filled with icy water and tied off, which was then passed around so you couldn’t see what it was, telling us it was the hand that had been chopped off in the story. Another time it was cold, slimy marbles in a bag that stood in for the eyes of trespassers.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the original Sherlock Holmes detective stories, wrote an entire book of tales “concerned with the grotesque and with the terrible” which he called Round the Fire Stories. As an undergraduate English major in the mid-1990s, I studied all of his writing, and these stories were the most fun part of that endeavor for me. Even the titles intrigue: “The Man with the Watches”; “Playing with Fire”; “The Sealed Room”; and “The Brazilian Cat” to name a few.

Doyle is an obvious influence for my own stories. My first ghost story was Traces (Ghosts of Roseville Book 1), featuring a spectral Civil War belle. Her presence in the historic plantation home deters Meredith Reed’s plan to burn down the building and create a memorial garden in its place. A hunky lawyer and a snarky sister also strive to change her mind. But exactly why the Lady in Blue haunts the plantation provides a memorable ending.

My second ghost story, Remnants (Ghosts of Roseville Book 2), due to release in time for Halloween, features a World War Two ghost. The snarky sister from Traces, Paulette, accidentally summons their grandfather who refuses to reveal the spell for banishing him until she discovers why she needed him in the first place. All while she and Meredith are planning a grand Halloween party at the plantation. Of course, there’s a handsome chemist who stirs up some other complications and some sizzling chemistry between he and Paulette. However, Paulette is due to deliver her baby, the result of a former relationship, and refuses to become involved with any man. Zac won’t take no for an answer. It’s up to Paulette to sort everything out before it’s too late.
My tales are not as gruesome as Doyle’s because they’re love stories, not tales of horror. My ghosts are guides and advisors, there to help, not scare. We all need a little guidance from time to time, in order to discover the right path forward. Right?
Image courtesy of
I’m giving away a copy of Traces (ebook or paper, your choice) to one lucky person who leaves me a comment. You’ll also be entered to win the grand prize of a Kindle! (See below for details.) So tell me. What’s your favorite kind of spooky tale?
Traces is currently available in ebook and paperback formats. Here are the links if you’d care to get your own copy.
Buy Links
Barnes and Noble:
And please, stay in touch via social media or, better yet, subscribe to my newsletter, Betty’s Broadside, at As a thank you, each quarter I’ll draw one name at random to win a gift. And most important, I promise to not overload your inbox, but only send out a broadside when there is news worth sharing.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @BettyBolte

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions! And don't forget I'll be attending this luncheon and would LOVE to see you there, too!

For the month of September, Southern Magic celebrates their Readers Luncheon being held November 1 in Birmingham, AL. NYT bestselling author Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker.  Come back and visit every day. Each post will be giving away a book or gift card! At the end of the blogfest, a grand prize winner of a Kindle Fire HD will be picked from everyone who comment during the month and be announced September 30. 

To register for the luncheon, go to Each attendee will receive a bag of books and author swag, sit at a table with one or two published authors, and opportunities to win baskets full of goodies


Naima Simone said...

Hi, Betty!
I LOVE ghost stories! I remember sitting on my grandmother's porch with this huge, old book of ghost stories that my sister and I used to go through over and over again. One of my favorites was The Yellow Ribbon. It was about a girl who always wore a yellow ribbon around her neck. The ending was shocking! LOL!

The Ghosts of Roseville series sounds so cool! Congratulations on your upcoming release!

Betty Bolte said...

Thanks, Naima! I remember The Yellow Ribbon, too. That was a good story with quite a twist at the end!

Charlotte said...

Betty, Hi I love ghost stories and our family history is riddled with true ghost stories passed down from generation to generation. I listened well as a child and the became the famous teller of tells as a young woman and as an old one as well. " The Woman buried alive", "The Whistle" " The Murdered", and so many others, to numerous to name have entertained the multitudes of friends and family over the years. I see ghost and love the fact that they do guide and comfort many times, I'm looking forward to reading your books. Best Wishes.

Lisa Burdette said...

Betty, I've never read any of your stuff, but they sound like my kind of books!

Betty Bolte said...

Charlotte, it sounds like you've had quite a career as a storyteller! That's wonderful!

Lisa, I hope you enjoy my stories!

Thanks for stopping by!

Callie James said...

What a wonderful blog, Betty. And I love that you write ghost stories! I was very much into that as a child and teen, and I'm kind of heading that way again.

Sounds awesome!

Betty Bolte said...

Hey Callie! Thanks for your kind words!

bn100 said...

Don't have a preference

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Larynn Ford said...

My thoughts of Halloween and the fall season? S'mores, candy apples, hot chocolate . . . you get the picture:)

Cari Hislop said...

I love ghost stories! I've had several ghosts show up in my stories as well (and no they didn't ask my permission they just appear on the page). Your stories sound really good...kind of scary, but not too scary...I like not too scary. ;)

For anyone who loves real ghost stories and is interested in the study/history of ghost stories (if you haven't read it yet) I highly recommend "The Night Side of Nature" by Catherine Crowe (who was English). It was published in 1848 and is supposedly the first "Scientific" attempt to study ghostly happenings. She was a highly educated logical woman with an open mind. Most of the stories she relates are ones where she knew the people recounting their experiences or knew people who knew the people etc. She wanted to record facts. It's also an amazing piece of unintentional Social history. Her introduction is a bit of a slog, but once she starts sharing stories it's riveting. If you write Regencies or early Georgian romances I found this book a gold mine (and not just because she tells real Georgian ghost stories).

cari at thehislops dot co dot uk

Betty Bolte said...

I so appreciate everyone weighing in on your favorite ghost stories! Now for the ubiquitous drum roll... And the WINNER is bn100! I'll send you an email at the address you provided. Thanks again, everyone!!!!

Shadow said...

I love a good spooky tale! Ive grown up on scary movies. lol Goosebumps books and the show were a favorite! lol I loved anything that could give me a scare. The first time i watched It by Stephen King, i wouldnt go into the bathroom alone. lol I was terrified! I even convicted myself i heard noises. lol I do enjoy a good ghost story. Ive lived in two haunted house, things get a bit..scary at times. I also enjoy hearing others stories. There a nice scary thrill!