13690878 10208958104903976 467692463591564250 n Melissa Stout-Penn · Reader · added about 21 hours ago

This is fantastic - can’t wait to read the book!  Keep up the excellent research and writing :-)

Hi All!  Thanks for your continued support both online and off!   I’ve been working hard since my last update and wanted to let you know how things were going!

I want to get the whole story, even if a scene only has one sentence so far, written down.  I want the bones, so speak, of the story so I can start layering on the musculature and nerve endings.  What you’ve seen so far is a few bones with some atrophied muscles, so in the most recent update (Check out the NEW draft of chapter 1) you may see some subtle shifts, deletions, and additions.  Knowing the larger structure of the story, I was able to tweak the opening moments of the book. 

 I also have been toying with overarching themes and secondary stories to enrichen the story and add depth of the characters.  As I go through and edit, I’m finding that, thankfully, some of the themes are already there in the first few chapters, unknowingly written in during the early stages.

Most importantly I’ve been absorbing anything I can get my hands on.  I spent a day researching Hungarian myths, supernatural beings and the traditional creation story (golden ducks diving to the bottom of the ocean), and have read about traditional Hungarian dishes and meal customs.  I’ve searched Cachtice Castle on Google Earth, and looked out over the digital view from where Erzsebet once stood.  I mapped the distance and terrain shifts that Kata and Erzsebet would have be subjected to as they traveled from Erzsebet’s childhood home to Cachtice, and the surrounding villages she would have known.

I’ve tried to throw myself into this world, as much as one can from across the world in modern day, not necessarily to educate, but to provide an authentic experience for the reader.   So much of our lives are experienced through the thoughtless rituals and values of our society and history, and the characters I’m attempting to bring to life would have the same influences from their world.

So, thank you all so much for continuing to provide me your thoughts and encouragement!  I hope to be satisfied with the next chapter soon so I can post it for you!  I’ll also be working on finalizing a prologue with a neutral character observing Erzsebet as a child. 

Bloody Best,

Alex Chesstell

 A HUGE thank you to everyone for your support.   As I spend this holiday break hunched over my computer typing out the story of Erzsebet, I thought I’d share with you all a piece of history.  On this day 407 years ago.....

December 30th, 1610

Rumors of Erzsebet’s violence and torture spread quickly through the Kingdom of Hungary starting in 1602, after a Lutheran Minister lodged complaints against her publicly, as well as in the Vienna courts.  Unsurprisingly, Hungarian authorities were in no rush to condemn Erzsebet’s behavior as it was typical for the Hungarian ruling class to treat their servants and subjects as objects that they owned, objects to be controlled, used, and discarded as the nobles saw fit.  It was not uncommon for extremely harsh punishments or torturous executions to take place all across Hungary at the time.     

Erzsebet was a powerful noble, with powerful political influence and a strong family name, and the accusations of torture and murder fell into what was generally acceptable behavior for her social standing.  The problem was that she was a woman with no husband and she was essentially untouchable through standard political channels.    

In 1610, eight years after the complaints had started, King Matthias II ordered the Palatine of Hungary, Gyorgy Thurzo, to fully investigate the disturbing allegations.  Thurzo collected evidence and testimonies with the assistance of two notaries.  

On December 30th, 1610 Thurzo and his men trudged in the dark and freezing cold up the steep rocky path that lead to Cachtice Castle and arrested Countess Erzsebet Bathory.  According to Thurzo, he discovered Bathory in the act of torture with two women dead or dying nearby.  There is almost no evidence to support this claim.  He had announced to her guests and villagers that she had been caught “red handed”, however based on court transcripts, it appeared that the bodies hidden throughout the castle grounds were not discovered until after the arrest was made.  It’s more than likely that Thurzo’s eagerness to punish Erzsebet inspired him to weave a tale of finding Erzsebet soaked with the blood of her victims while they died at her feet.

Ultimately this arrest led to further investigations, arrests, and the punishments of her “accomplices” in the castle, Katarina Benicka among them.   

It’s been 407 years since that fateful night, and still Erzsebet’s arrest and legacy remain bathed in mystery and conflicting stories.  Transcripts from her trial are subjective at best and coerced or falsified at worst.  One also can not overlook the fact that in a world were brutality was praised Erzsebet was cast as a devil to be eliminated.   Erzsebet remains a mystery to us in the modern world, only a few tangible facts to cling to while our imaginations fill in the shadowy gaps…

Dsc 0423 Mona.K · Author · edited 26 days ago · 1 like
I read the first 2 chapters, I do have a few edits to suggest and will get to them shortly. 

Please feel free to go over to my profile and read some of the draft chapters for Zombie Catz- I especially need some advice for my last chapter, Chapter 10. Zombie Catz is a comedy & adventure book, where the 2 main characters are spoiled felines surviving a zombie apocalypse, making it on their own amid starvation & fear & learning to become friends. 

Hi All, 

First, I want to say THANK YOU!  I’m so grateful to you for your pre-orders, and more importantly, your faith in me.  As I embark on this challenge, I’ll keep you informed of progress and story updates, and some links to influencial books, music, and films surrounding the Myth of Countess Bathory.

I’ve gotten the first draft of Chapter 1 to a place that I feel confident in sharing my work thus far, so please take a took, on the page https://www.inkshares.com/books/blood-in-the-shadows, follow the "Read" link and check it out.  Please feel welcome to share with me your feedback, edits, critiques, etc.  I want this book to be enjoyable to readers, so your feedback will be invaluable.  I promise I have a thick skin :)

So thank you again for your overwhelming support and words of encouragement!

Bloody Best,

Alex Chesstell

Notable Readers

Userphoto5 original
Userphoto5 original
augusto hernandez
Userphoto2 original
Anand Srinivasan Asokan
Userphoto4 original
Userphoto5 original
Blake Keng
Userphoto3 original
Charles V Chesson
Userphoto2 original
Emily C Marshall
Userphoto4 original
Camille Garrett
Userphoto2 original
Dillon S Lynch
Userphoto6 original
James Ostell
13690878 10208958104903976 467692463591564250 n
Melissa Stout-Penn
20914235 10212235447056352 4111486795185178744 n
Brenan Peterman
Dsc 0423
Userphoto1 original
Allison E Mason
Userphoto6 original
Nichole C Swan
Userphoto7 original
Stephen E Pustell
Userphoto9 original
Jillian Roach
Userphoto6 original
Melinda Sue Macfarlane
Userphoto8 original
Userphoto4 original
Annmarie Sieber