Mythical Monday: Ghost Ship, the HMS Eurydice by Mae Clair

October is a time when our thoughts easily turn to restless ghosts and apparitions. But phantoms aren’t restricted to dwellings only on land. Case in point—the tragedy of the HMS Eurydice.

Illustration of the HMS Eurydice caught in the squall that caused the ship to sink

By Illustrated London News [Public domain] courtesy Wikimedia Commons

 A wooden frigate in a time when steam-propelled and iron clad vessels gradually commandeered the waterways, the Eurydice was converted to a training ship in 1876. The British Navy felt there was still benefit for their ratings to learn the old ways of sail.

On March 22, 1878, the Eurydice was returning from the West Indies. She passed the southeastern side of the Isle of Wight in the British Channel and was spied under full sail by coastguards. Forty minutes later, off Sandown Bay, two smaller vessels sighted her as she continued her journey toward Portsmouth harbor.

Within moments an icy squall arose, bringing a frigid blizzard of snow. One of the smaller ships took shelter in a lee, while the other “reefed” his sails, prepared to ride out the storm. The Eurydice, however, continued under full sail, her gunports wide open. It’s believed she intended to fire a salute when she reached Portsmouth, just eight miles away.

Sadly, for the 366 men on the ship, she never arrived at her destination. Survivors say the captain ordered the sails lowered, but the squall engulfed the vessel so quickly, there wasn’t time. Spun about in the storm, the Eurydice tipped onto her port side and the sea rushed through the open gunports. She sank rapidly, most of the crew trapped below deck. Those who were tossed into the ocean froze to death in the icy waters as they struggled to swim to shore. Of the entire crew, only two survived, rescued by the vessel who had reefed her sails.

Since that fateful day in 1878, the Eurydice has been seen multiple times. Several people also reported experiencing premonitions of the ship’s demise at the exact moment the vessel was engulfed. Later, in 1880, local fishermen reported spying a fully-rigged sailing ship off Sandown Bay. The vessel mysteriously vanished when they drew closer. But not everyone believed the tales. Some whispered that the reports of a phantom vessel were nothing more than the result of lingering mist and imaginative thinking.

Then in 1934, the commander of the submarine HMS Proteus reported nearly colliding with a sailing man-of-war in the same area. Captain Lipscombe was on the conning tower of his boat, the sub returning from an exercise in the English Channel, when a phantom ship abruptly appeared from nowhere. He was forced to take evasive action, narrowly avoiding ramming her. Just that quickly, the phantom vessel disappeared. Lipscombe was reported to be a highly reputable witness who had no previous knowledge of the Eurydice’s sinking.

Finally, in 1998, while filming a TV documentary, Prince Edward spotted a three-masted ship off the Isle of Wight. It’s rumored the crew caught the spectral ship on film, and although their tape jammed during playback, they were able to show a portion of the footage on the program “Crown and Country.”

The tragedy of the Eurydice is considered one of Britain’s worse peace-time naval disasters. Perhaps that is why the phantom ship still haunts Sandown Bay, her gunports fully open as she slides in and out of the mist—one moment there, the next gone. Much like her own fate on March 22, 1878.

Do you think the stories could be true?

Mythical Monday: Legends of Zombie Land by Mae Clair

Tucked into western Pennsylvania, snuggled against the Ohio border lies a stretch of ground known as Zombie Land. Numerous tales have sprung up during the years of bizarre happenings and spectral apparitions that haunt the area. Rumors abound of eerie screams echoing in the night, and of ghostly phantoms that wander the darkness.

Legend also tells of a group of people known as the Light Bulb Heads. Afflicted with a condition that caused water to form on the brain (hydrocephalus), the group retreated to the area, hoping to live in peace. Their odd medical condition caused deformities making them a target for ridicule and shame, some claiming they were “zombies”—a likeness from which the area derived its name.Spooky setting with hand rising out from the grave. Halloween

Another group who inhabited the region were known as the Bridge People. They lived beneath a stone span, commonly called the Frankenstein Bridge. One legend references a young boy who jumped from the bridge and committed suicide, forever branding it as a place of desolation. The sides of the bridge are spray-painted with numerous markings, names, and symbols. It’s rumored that if your name is spray-painted on the bridge, the people who linger underneath will hunt you down and kill you.

Graffiti was never so lethal.

Or, you might find yourself on Gravel Road, an old rail bed where visitors reported hearing ghostly train whistles in the night. It’s whispered that if you park your car on the track you’re certain to see lights approaching, accompanied by the loud rattle of a steam engine. Only the foolish linger long enough to discover if the metal apparition bearing down on them is real.

There is also the notorious Blood House. Although the infamous residence now stands in ruins, legend has that it was once the abode of an old woman versed in the dark arts of witchcraft. She kidnapped and murdered children, burying their remains in a field behind her house. Locals knew never to venture too close, especially when the night was wrapped in darkness and the moon scuttled behind the clouds.

There has been physical evil here, too. In the year 2000, Shannon Leigh Kos, a twelve-year-old girl was found raped and stabbed to death beneath the bridge. Her murderers were three men in their early 20s, one of whom she’d had a relationship with. The men set fire to her body, hoping to hide the remains, but were eventually discovered.

If there is any gentleness about this place, it rests with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Although the St. Lawrence church and cemetery no longer stand, it is rumored that a likeness of the Lord’s mother once graced the spot. If it was safe to enter Zombie Land her arms would be open, welcoming strangers, but if her hands were clasped in prayer, it was a sign to stay away. One can only hope that the Blessed Mother was there to welcome poor Shannon Leigh Kos into her embrace in her last hours.

As Halloween approaches, this sinister area of Pennsylvania will likely be on the lips and tongues of many as they share old tales. Teenagers in particular, enjoy turning the area into a lover’s lane where they share ghost stories and whispers of things that go bump in the night.

Knowing all that has taken place in Zombie Land, would you be brave enough to visit when the night is dark and the moon is hidden in a blanket of clouds?

Mythical Monday: The Colorful Chameleon by Mae Clair

Hi, friends. You might recall a recent post I did in which I *ahem* whined about losing a Mythical Monday blog article on the chameleon. Such an amateur mistake which I thought I had wisely outgrown.

Guess what?

After shuffling through numerous folders on my computer, I realized I hadn’t lost it after all. Apparently, overcome by a moment of mad genius, I saved it with an unrecognizable name in the wrong sub-folder. *shakes head* I have no clue what I was thinking but am going to blame the lapse on Mr. Evening. For a muse, he’s been keeping strange hours of late.

The good news is I’m now able to share how the chameleon attained his color-shifting ability.

According to legend, Chameleon was once a beautiful golden-green in hue. I’m sure there were lots of compliments lobbed his way, maybe even a fan club of admirers, or an entourage that followed him about.  But Chameleon didn’t let the adulation go to his head. He was a decent sort which is why almost everyone looked up to him.

Notice I said “almost” because there are always a few resentful souls sulking about.

Golden-green was probably a trendy fashion statement at the time which is no doubt why Scorpion, Komodo Dragon, Spider, Snake, and Bat banded together to plot against poor Chameleon. They devised a scheme to rob him of his beautiful appearance by introducing colored dye into his system. (Can’t you just hear their nefarious laughter?). So under the pretext of friendship—and probably a lot of false fawning—the five invited him to a party where they spiked his drink.

A panther chameleon resting on a tree branch at night, displaying his colorsAs soon as Chameleon swallowed the foul concoction, his skin changed color, morphing from red to blue, and purple to green.

This is why Chameleon changes color so easily and why Scorpion, Komodo, Spider, Snake, and Bat are often painted as wicked creatures.Personally, I think the Fraudulent Five did Chameleon a favor. I love how the adaptable little creatures are able to change hue so quickly, and wouldn’t mind using the same trick with my wardrobe. Think of the money saved on clothing!

In closing, I had a nice virtual party planned with this post and a lovely tie-in to my new blog décor. But since the blog remodeling is now a thing of the past, I’ll just invite you to have some crab stuffed mushroom caps and a drink. I promise I didn’t spike the punch. Bwahahaha!

Mythical Monday: Pennsylvania’s Tearful Squonk by Mae Clair

It’s always fascinating when I stumble upon a new creature in my ongoing searches for all things odd, mythical, or cryptozoological. Even more rewarding when I discover a beastie from my native state of Pennsylvania.  Today, I’d like to introduce the Squonk.

Doesn’t the name sound like something out of Dr. Seuss or Jabberwocky? I love saying it. Give it a try… “Squonk.” It makes me want to cuddle the poor thing.

As it turns out, the squonk could probably use a good cuddle— assuming you could get past its ghastly appearance.  A mid-sized animal that goes about on four legs, the squonk will never win a beauty contest. Its skin, which sags and flops on its frame, is covered in a mish-mash of warts, boils, and moles.

Illustration of the mythical Squonk, a creature rumored to haunt the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania

Illustration from “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods” illustrated by Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox, 1910 PUBLIC DOMAIN . By Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox;Tripodero at en.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Said to favor the dense Hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania, this pitiful creature spends most of its time hiding and weeping, ashamed of its grotesque appearance. Bashful and retiring, it usually ventures out at dusk when it is less likely to be seen. On nights illuminated by a full moon it prefers to stay completely hidden, fearing it might otherwise catch a glimpse of its reflection in a pond.

Numerous hunters have attempted to capture a squonk, tracking the animal by the trail of its tears. All have failed. If cornered, or even frightened, the squonk will quickly dissolve into a puddle of tears.

How terribly sad is that?

Legend tells of a particularly clever hunter who was able to lure one of the creatures into a sack. He quickly tied the bag and hefted the beast over his shoulder for the stroll home. Halfway there he realized his burden had grown incredibly light. When he looked inside the sack he discovered nothing but liquid—all that remained of the woefully despondent squonk.

Although it’s not entirely clear from the research I’ve done, I tend to think the squonk reverts back to its physical form when the threat has passed—and most assuredly begins weeping again.

Given its pitiful existence, I hereby nominate this Mythical Monday as “Hug a Squonk Day.” Assuming, of course, you can catch one long enough to brighten the poor thing’s dismal existence!

Announcing A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair

I’m hijacking Mythical Monday again this week because I’ve got news I’m anxious to share. And in many ways, it relates to my love of folklore, mythology, and urban legends. In fact, it all started with a Mythical Monday post in 2013.

Densley wooded area with an old barrier blocking an overgrown path

A shot taken within the TNT, an old WWII munitions site the Mothman was rumored to haunt

Many of you know I’ve been working on a novel that utilizes the legend of the Mothman. I submitted that book, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, to my editor the end of March. She got back to me in good time and suggested a few changes. I took care of those and returned it to her in mid April, after which it was sent up the line to a senior editor for final approval. That’s when things got a little nerve-wracking.

Would he like it? Would he reject it? I hated the thought of having to submit elsewhere, but Kensington Publishing is a quality house, and I knew if I wanted to publish with them this was the process I needed to go through. I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind, fully aware it would be several months until I heard anything one way or the other.

Since A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is the first novel in my Point Pleasant Series, I dove into research for book two and even took a trip to the town, which is located in West Virginia. Two days before I was scheduled to leave I received news that the manuscript had been accepted. YES!!  And not only that, but Kensington Publishing agreed to give me a 3-book contract for all the novels in the series. SQUEEEEE!!

It has been exceptionally hard sitting on that news. I wanted so badly to share it, but I’m superstitious at heart, so I decided to wait until contracts had been received and signed. That’s all been done now, and I’m over-the-top delighted to announce the Point Pleasant series. Here’s the release schedule:

Book 1, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS will be released April of 2016

Book 2, A COLD TOMORROW will be released December of 2016

Book 3, (Untitled at this point), will be released August of 2017

In the past, my imprint with Kensington has been Lyrical Press. Moving forward with this series, the books will be released through their brand new sub imprint dedicated to suspense, mystery, romantic suspense, and thrillers—Lyrical Underground. I’m highly jazzed about that, because, although there is still a romantic suspense theme in all three novels, the mystery angle is far stronger than anything I’ve done in the past.

When I think back, this entire series started with a Mythical Monday post I wrote on February 4, 2013. At that time, I knew about the Mothman, but only that the creature was a winged humanoid with glowing red eyes. After writing that post, I really wanted to write a novel playing off the mythology of the legend. It’s interesting how even the blog comments reflect that. If you’re curious about the post that started the whole thing, you can find it here.

Now, I need to get cracking writing books two and three. Here’s a brief overview of the whole series. Note that the blurb for book 1 is not official at this point, and for books 2 and 3 I’ve only done short teasers:



Sometimes silence is the same as murder

On a cold December night in 1967, the Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio unexpectedly collapsed during the peak of rush hour traffic claiming forty-six lives, many perishing in the frigid waters of the Ohio River.

Just a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn. Now, fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Much has changed about the once thriving river community. The ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as does the legend of a giant winged creature known as the Mothman, said to haunt an abandoned WWII munitions site.

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware there are darker emotions than grief tangled up in the Silver Bridge tragedy.

Eve’s arrival triggers the unraveling of a fifteen-year-old secret that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of danger.  A secret more terrifying than the bridge collapse and the frightful legend of the Mothman.

A murderer stalks the streets of Point Pleasant.


When Katie Lynch stops to help a disabled motorist, she unwittingly finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue involving flying saucers, mysterious men in black, animal mutilations, and the Mothman. Together with Officer Ryan Flynn, Katie attempts to decipher a coded message that points to the arrival of an extraterrestrial visitor.

Untitled, Book 3

To placate his sister who believes their family’s history of misfortune is tied to a centuries old curse, Quentin Marsh travels to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, hoping to uncover the truth about an Indian chief’s brutal murder. Did his ancestor participate in the ugly execution of Shawnee Chief Cornstalk, and how is the Mothman, a flying humanoid that has haunted the area for decades connected? Does local history buff, Sarah Sherman, hold the answer to breaking his family’s curse?


So what do you think? Do I have you intrigued?

Mythical Monday: Visiting a Haunted Hotel by Mae Clair

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I recently took a trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia in order to continue researching my Mothman series of novels. This time, I was able to garner a much better understanding of how the “TNT AREA” is laid out, and visited a few specific locations I wanted to see. Originally used to store munitions in World War II, the TNT is now a wildlife management area that encompasses over 3600 acres. Riddled among dense woodlands, overgrown trails and algae-covered ponds is a network of concrete “igloos” where ammunition was once stored. These are built into hillsides, and covered by trees and grass, making them invisible when viewed from the air.

There are several roads connected to the TNT that I really didn’t have a feel for, including one where cars have been known to shut down or stall for no reason. After visiting, I now understand how they intersect, and was even able to snap a photo of a map for the TNT at the Mothman Museum (yes, there is one). The museum has recently moved to a new building, and it’s far nicer than before. Hubby and I chatted with the guy who runs it for a while, and I was able to pick up some good info and another map.

Metal fencing in front of the site of the old North Power Plant in the TNT area, West Virginia

Site of the old north power plant in the TNT

I also wanted to see the ruins of the North Power Plant along Fairgrounds Road. This is the location where the Mothman was first sighted in 1966. The power plant is gone but I was able to snap of photo of the ruins and location where it stood.

So what does any of this have to do with staying at a haunted hotel?

During my last trip to Point Pleasant, my husband and I stayed across the river in Gallipolis, Ohio. This time we stayed in downtown Point Pleasant in the Historic Lowe Hotel. This is a very old four-story behemoth built in 1904. As I have an old hotel in my novels, I wanted to get a feel for this one.

The owners were super friendly and the location put almost everything I wanted to do within walking distance (except the TNT). I can’t begin to relay the scope of this place—it was mammoth. With its long halls, old stairways, elaborate moldings and woodwork, there were times I felt like I stepped into the Overlook hotel in The Shining. Everything was furnished with antiques, and I do mean antiques—as if nothing had ever been changed. I opened the top drawer on the dresser and discovered an old songbook from the 1940s, the pages yellowed and tattered, inside. The sink in the bathroom had separate faucets for hot and cold water. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a sink like that. The second floor landing had a huge parlor with a piano, parlor benches and chairs, this even before we ventured down the hallway to our room.

So where does the ghost fit in? When I inquired why the hotel was billed as haunted (something I didn’t realize until our last night there), our host told us that a phantom had been seen occasionally on the third floor. Nothing much appeared to be known about this ghost but there was a picture someone had snapped hanging in the second floor hallway. Our host told us the spirit was visible in the photo so my husband and I checked it out. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but have to admit, the image of someone is definitely visible in the bottom right hand corner. I tried to grab a shot of it with my phone. Are you able to see the ghost?

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

We left the next morning without having encountered any spirits or experiencing anything that went bump-in-the-night (er, not that I would want to). No Mothman, no UFOs, no men-in-black. But I did meet some great people and came away with additional research notes on an interesting, historic town.

Mythical Monday: The Flatwoods Monster by Mae Clair

When I think of West Virginia and cryptids, I naturally think of the Mothman, but there is another famous monster that haunted the Mountain State in the past.

Mysterious creature haloed by moonlight

The Flatwoods Monster, or Braxton County Monster, arrived one early fall evening in 1952. Shortly after 7 o’clock on September 12th, a group of boys were playing outside when they witnessed a bright light streak across the sky. Brothers Fred and Edward May, ages 12 and 13, along with their ten-year-old friend, Tommy Hyer, raced back to the May home and excitedly told Mrs. May they had seen a UFO. They were certain it had touched down in a field not far away belonging to a local farmer.

Mrs. May gathered up the boys, along with two more of their friends, plus Eugene Lemon, a seventeen-year-old with the West Virginia National Guard. Together, the entire group headed to the farm to investigate. Lemon’s dog trotted alongside, eventually loping ahead to disappear beyond a hill.

Within moments, the group heard the animal barking wildly. It bolted back to them with its tail between its legs as if terrified by something.

Warily, the group crested the hill, astounded to see a pulsating “ball of fire.” The entire area was swaddled in a rancid mist that made their eyes and noses burn. Two smaller lights, blue in color, peered at them from beneath an oak tree. When Eugene Lemon shone a flashlight in that direction, the beam revealed a strange-looking creature—eight to ten feet tall with a spade-like head, red face, and green clothing that hung in folds from the waist down. The creature hissed and began floating toward them. At the last moment, it switched direction and glided toward the ball of flame. In a panic, the group fled back to Mrs. May’s house where she immediately contacted the sheriff, as well as Mr. A. Lee Stewart, co-owner of the local newspaper. Some of the group became nauseated and Lemon vomited, presumably from the noxious mist they’d inhaled.

Later that night, Stewart returned to the area with Lemon and reported a “sickening, burnt metallic odor still prevailing.” As word spread of the event, other witnesses came forward to report similar experiences in the days before and after the sighting—either with the creature, or to say they’d seen balls of orange light in the sky.  One report involved a mother and daughter who said they’d encountered the monster. The event so traumatized the daughter, she had to be hospitalized afterward.

UFO sighting? Alien?

Skeptics say the ball of fire may have been a meteor and the creature sheltering beneath the tree an owl. In their heightened state of nerves, Mrs. May and her companions may have construed the bird as something otherworldly.

Whatever the answer, there is no question something strange happened that September night in 1952. The Flatwoods Monster remains one of the better known UFO cases to be bandied about in the press.  The 1950s (and 60’s) produced an abundance of UFO sightings, but I can’t help thinking about the nerves that must have been pinging around on that farm field between Mrs. May and her group.

I would have loved to have been part of the excitement. What about you?