Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October Frights Blog Hop (VII): Halloween Costumes


Today's Spotlight is on...
Words That Bind
(paranormal romance)
Social worker Tam Kerish can’t keep her cool professionalism when steamy client Mr. Burns kindles a desire for more than a client-therapist relationship—so she drops him. However, they discover she’s the talisman to which Burns, an immortal djinn, has been bound since the days of King Solomon…and that makes it difficult.

Ethical guidelines are unequivocal when it comes to personal relationships with clients. However, the djinn has a thawing effect on the usually non-emotive Tam, who begins to feel true emotion whenever he is near. Tam has to make a difficult choice: to stay on the outside, forever looking in…or to turn her back on her entire world, just for the chance to finally experience what it means to fall in love.

Glad you're back for another October Frights Blog Hop post! Hope you're getting your entries's easy, too: just comment on each post for an entry in the big giveaway!
Today's spotlight book is Words That Bind, a love story about a genie and his therapist.
Mr. Burns, an ancient djinn, spends his time wearing one of a variety of guises. Sometimes, he's Burns, a man who even the normally cool-as-a-cucumber Tam Kerish must admit is attractive. Sometimes, he's a twist of smokeless fire or a screaming whirlwind.
And sometimes, he's a complete animal. 
“So. You’ve destroyed a stereotype for me. A genie who lives in a library. Different.”
“When in Rome, no?” He stirred his cup before setting down the spoon with a light clink against the saucer. “Or, I suppose it is more accurate to say when in human form. When I am Burns, I prefer here.”
“Human form.” It didn’t sound right. Who said things like that, and meant it? “Can you change into anything you want? Any shape at all?”
He stretched out his legs and cocked his head, sliding his gaze up and away. “I suppose I could. I’m getting old and set in my ways. There’s this…” He swept his hands down the line of his body.
Her eyes were unable to keep from following, not even when he lingered over his midsection. Even lounging, his shirt was tightly tucked into his beltline. No belly fat there.
He tilted his head and gave her an upper-teeth smile, nibbling gently at his lower lip. “And apparently this form is pleasing to the eye, so I wear it often. But there are others. Tiger, a favorite. Savage and regal and the colors of flames in the night. Fearsome to behold, but very useful when dealing with physical conditions in which a human form may be outmatched. Plus, I can lash my tail.”
His voice took a teasing, conspirator’s tone. “I love my tail. You’d love it too, if you saw it.”
She trained her eyes firmly upon his. No way would she give him the pleasure of checking out his tail.
If you couldn't tell, Burns really loves the way he looks. I always imagined genies would lean toward the cocky side. Part of the fun in writing that book was describing him in all his various forms of glory.
Maybe that's also why I love Halloween--the excuse to dress up. Wear a costume. Step out of my normal limits and assume the guise of someone else. (Usually, my costumes involve a black cape. And I'm not talking Batman, folks. I dressed like a vampire long before I'd even starting reading Anne Rice. I suppose it was all that parochial schooling that did it to me.)
So that brings us to today's comment-to-enter the giveaway...
If you could change form--be a shape shifter--what form would you choose? And would you want it to be limited, like a Halloween costume for a party? Or would it be something you'd like to slip into every now and then? Tell us in a comment and you're entered into the grand prize giveaway.
And today you can get a bonus entry...if you post your favorite Halloween costume on your social media (or find one you love online) POST A LINK TO THE PICTURE in a separate comment! (Optional: tag me if you'd like in your sosh meeds post and I'll share it along! Use #octoberfrights2015 Twitter @ashkrafton or Instagram @ash_krafton)   

Commented? Got your free book? Get back to the hop...pick your next lucky stop:

Monday, October 5, 2015

October Frights Blog Hop (V): Ghost Stories



Free on Kindle through October 5th!
Today is October 5th, folks, so grab it before it goes away...

 Today's Spotlight is on...">Doorways: Three Tales of No Going Back</a><img src="
Doorways. Life is full of them.

We walk through doorways every day. Sometimes, we don't pay any attention to them as we go. Sometimes, we stumble through and curse them for tripping us up. Sometimes, we put great effort into opening certain doors wide enough to squeeze through, only to have them slam shut behind us again.

In the art of storytelling, a "doorway" refers to a place in the story at which point there is no way for the character to go back and alter their course. It's a point of no return.

Sometimes the character makes the choice to pass through a doorway. Sometimes, the choice is made for them.

Life itself is a series of doorways--a string of rite-of-passage moments that connect the chapters of our lives like boxcars in a train. Like trains, life is often full speed ahead with no reverse. Only the doorways keep us from losing ground.

Doorways: Three Tales of No Going Back is a short story collection. Each tale depicts a doorway through which no character can ever return.

Cross the thresholds with them.

Everyone has a ghost story to'll even find a ghostly tale in Doorways. The story "A Compassionate Death" was inspired by the song "Fiddler on the Green" by Demons & Wizards. (And if that isn't a cool name for a band, I don't know what is.)

A few years ago, we took a family vacation to Gettysburg, PA. Lucky for me I have children who are interested in history and educational trips so going to Gettysburg was a no-brainer. (My teen daughter and her dad were also huge fans of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter so, for them, it was a fan event.)

Although we'd planned all our activities around historical touring, I had a persistent ulterior motive: ghost hunting.

Gettysburg is the site of the three-day battle that ended the Civil War. It was here that Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address. It was also here that tens of thousands of men died, their lives cut short by the tragedies of war. We saw bullet holes in buildings, field upon field of solemn memorials...and about a gazillion places offering scenic ghost tours.

Do you know how hard it was for me to pass them up? Wednesday is my favorite day of the week because it's usually a Ghost Hunters marathon on SyFy. I LOVE scaring myself. My family, on the other hand, aren't so much into ghost hunting. I really had to bite my tongue and soldier on through a week of no ghost hunting in one of the most haunted towns in the country.

The ghosts of Gettysburg must have sensed my disappointment, though, because, when we didn't go looking for them, they came looking for us.

Here is one of my favorite ghost stories...

As I said, while in Gettysburg, we planned several historic tours. In addition to a guided bus tour of the battlefields, we also visited each of the many museums in town. There was one particular museum that my daughter did not want to visit: The Soldiers' National Museum.

The Soldiers' National Museum is located in the former home of the National Soldier's Orphan Homestead. It's also the site of a spooktacular ghost tour where the brave (or foolish) can descend into the cellars to collection of battlefield relics. It took us a long time to get through the museum and my darling daughter hated the whole thing.
see where the cruel matron chained her children in crude dank dungeons--and worse. My daughter was NOT interested in running into the ghosts of tortured orphans.

I tried a comforting approach when encouraging her to go through the museum. "When we go in," I told her, "Just tell yourself we are a family who is looking to adopt a new brother or sister. That way, if any spirit attaches itself to us, it will be happy, not scary. When we get back to the door, the spirit will pass through and go on to find peace."

She stuck out her chin in stubborn defiance and grumbled at me.

The museum was neat. It had a life-sized scene of soldiers with cannons at the beginning and then went on to display artifacts, detailed dioramas, and a huge hole in the floor of the gift shop where you can peer into the basement, which had served as a dungeon.

She declared she had a headache when we first walked in. Then, as we progressed through the tour, she developed a stomach ache. Her maladies progressed to the point where, by the end of the tour, my husband carried her: she was completely flopped over his shoulder. At twelve, she was already long and lanky and her arms and legs just hung, listless. She was a total wreck.

I couldn't get her to look in the dungeon display at the end, literally a hole in the floor over in the corner. It seems to be an afterthought to the museum but, remembering what I'd told my daughter, I wasn't going to leave without at least acknowledging those poor unfortunates. My poor child moaned and groaned until we walked outside...

...and she had an instant, miraculous recovery.

I passed the whole thing off as her way of protesting the whole visit. Until, that is, when I looked at the pictures I took along the way.

This is the first photo I took in the museum, where my daughter's headache began progressing into her almost-coma. Look closely between the second and third figures. Although we passed through a lot of dark and dusty rooms in the museum, this is the only orb image I captured. If it had been dust, it would have appeared in other pictures--and I took close to thirty in areas like this one.

Take another look, this time at the zoomed image.

Could it be? Did my daughter attract a child's trapped spirit with the promise of a new home and new life? Did she lead it to peace when she took it out of the museum with her? I like to think so.

Leave a comment to earn another entry in the October Frights Giveaway...

What do you think of that ghostly photo? Do you have a ghost story and maybe even a photo of your own to share? I'd love to hear your tales!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Frights Blog Hop (III): Dark Poetry

Today's Spotlight is on...
poetry, fantasy, red fist fiction, speculative, dark
"My crow leaps in a sudden sweep of wing and sails past, the scent of his feathers a balm to a soon-broken soul."
This volume opens with a piece that leaves the reader wondering: Is the speaker victim or victor? Shadows can obscure the details that would cement our perceptions of individuals or events.
Sometimes, shadows tell us more than we want to know.
Shadows prevail in each of the poems in The Scent of his Feathers, but Krafton is not afraid of the dark. In this poetry collection, she explores the darkness that surrounds us, dimming the edges of our well-lit worlds. Themes of death, devotion, despair, and desperation are expressed in subtle shades, allowing the reader to determine their own definitions.
How a person interprets these pieces--a collection of tiny everyday deaths--will depend on the reader and the flavor of the shadows within that person’s heart. Join Krafton as she explores the inherent beauty of twilight. Sympathize with the shadows of a soul. Understand what drives a spirit to desperation. And remember: without darkness, there can be no light.

We live our lives surrounded by poetry...even when we can't see the words. Even those who can't quite say they read poetry are still affected the poetry that permeates our world. Song lyrics...memorable movie lines...that's all poetry. Really.

And we absorb it without even realizing.

When I was a kid, I memorized a lot of poetry. It wasn't the cool thing to do; in fact, I'm fairly certain my friends would have thought it was the least cool thing on the planet. (And we're talking back in the 80s. We put a LOT of emphasis on cool.)

Even uncooler was the fact that I was drawn to the shadowy side of poetry. In the 80s everything was neon and geometric and WHAM! and totally tubular...and there was me. Smuggling Stephen King into Girl Scout camp and carrying Poe around in my heart everywhere I went.

I loved poems such as "Sonnet: To Science", in which Poe villainizes science for preying upon the poet's heart and pretty much slaughtering fairy tales and daydreams forever. (And yet, I became a science major in college. Hmm.)

Even more haunting are these lines from Thebaid, written by the Roman poet Statius in the first century CE:

"Pleasant lives droop and fall, [Death] with his sword cuts through the [Fates'] threads, and hurries the stricken city to the shades."

Or this, from his Silvae:

"Lay aside thy fears [for the beloved dead], and be no more in dread of threatening [Death]."

As far as poetry goes, that's epic.

Maybe poetry was my way of paying heed to my heart, even if my brain made me choose a more practical path. That's the coolest thing about poetry--it's duality. You can be a poet without ever writing a word, if only you scratch the words upon your heart.

Enter in the October Frights Blog Hop giveaway by commenting on today's post...

...and here's what I'd love for you to share: a poem or song verse or a few poetic lines, something that is dear to you, words that are forever in your heart. Whether the words are your own or lovingly lent to you by another, share your favorite poetry with us!

And don't forget to pick up a copy of my dark poetry chapbook The Scent of His Feather, free on Kindle through October 5th!

Commented? Got your free book? Get back to the hop...pick your next lucky stop: