Saturday, December 5, 2015

CHARM CITY: A New Urban Fantasy Series to be Released on Wattpad

Thank goodness November is over. Technically, it was a #NaNoFail since I didn't hit my 50k words. Boo.

But I can't call it a complete failure. I did a ton of writing…so, in the end, I totally came out a winner.
Looking back, I think that, my NaNoWriMo handicap aside, I wasn't focused enough on one project. Over the past few weeks, I had two different WIPs competing for attention. Two totally different books. Two completely unrelated worlds. I started out with the first book in my newest urban fantasy series, CHARM CITY, as my November project but then switched gears completely and changed it to a paranormal mystery called GHOSTLIGHTS OF POTTER PARK.

I plotted that second book like I've never plotted before and started banging out that story. With a plot outline right next to me, I just had to follow the story along and connect all the points. Should have been a walk in the park, right?

Wrong. I got hung up on a small detail and the wheels stopped turning before I even hit 11K.

I tried researching my way around it but you know what Internet research is like. You do very well for about fifteen minutes until you realize you're approaching info overload and the next thing you know, you're reading Buzzfeed articles.

Writing came to a complete halt before Thanksgiving due to a sad family event and I didn't even open MS Word for a week. Yes, I felt guilty. No, there was no other alternative. My writing was 100% completely mental for nearly two weeks.

Bad timing, November. You should have been more willing to work with me.

When I was finally ready to get back to work, it wasn't GHOSTLIGHTS that I opened. It was CHARM CITY.

I'd missed that story. Exorcists battling addiction and half-breeds torn between the Light and the Dark? Can't resist it. (There may even be a hell gate or two.) The story takes place in Baltimore and in Boston, two places where I enjoyed spending a lot of time. Writing CHARM CITY is like going back for a visit. Except, there's demons.

Unlike GHOSTLIGHTS, I didn't get hung up on the actual setting for CHARM CITY. In fact, Charm City is a nickname for Baltimore (made for a very happy coincidence considering I left loose an unconventional magician in Baltimore.) That story just comes out every time I open the manuscript. I flip to a page, I watch it unfold in my mind, and I write it down.

I love stories that do that. 

And I think I'm going to start posting it on Wattpad. I've been feeling a little bad about hiding that story away so I'll be posting a chapter each week on Wattpad. Once I get the first chapter up, I'll made a better announcement with a cover and blurb and all that fun bookly goodness.

If you're on Wattpad, look for me at:

And be sure to follow me so that you know when each part of that story goes up. I'd love for you to read along and let me know what you think about each chapter as the story unfolds.

If you're not on Wattpad, go join. It's fun, it's free, and it will keep you up to your eyeballs in stuff to read. Who doesn't love that?

At any rate, by the time November and NaNoWriMo wrapped up, I didn't earn a winner's badge…but technically, I still won. GHOSTLIGHTS may have clocked in at mid-10K, but CHARM CITY was at 40k on November 30th. Two stories, fifty thousand words.

Sounds like a #NaNoWin, after all.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Author RA McCandless: Three Ways to Hook Your Reader in the First 500 Words #specufic

Today we're visited by spec fic author RA McCandless. He's launching his newest book today so be sure to check out Hell Becomes Her. Hope you enjoy!

Well there's something you don't see every day.
Plot, characters,
complexity—none of that matters on the first page.  What's important is to hook your
readers.  The cliche is that you need a
very good first line, but the truth is that if a reader has picked up your book
(or read the synopsis enough to buy the ebook/download a sample) they're
already invested and willing to give you some of their time.  Usually, a page at least.  So you have that much time to set the hook
and start to reel them in.  Then,
complexity and layers and characters can all do their work.

Here's a few things that I try
to do with my first page (about the first 300 to 500 words:

1 - Establish my world.  Obviously, I'm going to need a couple ten
thousand words to really build out the world, but I want to give my readers a
real sense of what they're reading.  So,
a steampunk books gets some steamalicious gears, or brass patina, or leather
and tin goggles out of the gate—even if it's only in passing.

Tension!  Conflict!  Character!

Meet the Trifecta!
2 - Establish my main
character.  The primary character, even
if he/she later fades to the background or is subsumed by other character POVs,
is introduced and the solid core of that characters is introduced on the first
page.  Scoundrels are doing
skullduggery.  Paladins are shining their
white cloaks.  Harrison Ford is being a
good man under extreme pressure.  You get
the idea.

3 - Tension/Conflict.  You don't want your readers on the edge of
their seat throughout the entire story, they need some breathing room every now
and then.  BUT in introducing the book,
there should be some kind of conflict, even minor and easily overcome, that
will draw them in and keep the pages turning.
Witnessing an airship docking.
Winning (or losing) a high stakes poker game.  Being confronted by a police captain for a
bust gone horribly wrong.  All of these
create tension or establish conflict that will (hopefully) pique readers'

It is me, or did it just get complicated in here?
Of course, you don't do these
separately.  With 300 to 500 words to
work in, you weave these elements together to create a tapestry of world,
characters and tension.  With any luck,
this informs your first line, and you've laid the bait, allowed the reader to
nibble, and by word 301 (or 501) you'd set the hook so firmly that no matter
how complex, layered or characterific your story, everyone is along for the
roller coaster ride. 

R.A. McCandless is the author of the urban fantasy Flames of Perdition series.  His first book, Tears of Heaven, was named a 2015 EPIC eBook finalist and winner of the 2014 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader's Poll by Preditors & Editors.  His latest book, Hell Becomes Her, is available now.  He continues to write genre and historical fiction, battle sprinklers and play with his three boys.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Writer's Tool of the Month: NaNoWriMo

Being an indie author means I have a hard time defining what I do with a single word.

I'm a writer.
I'm a blogger.
I'm a cover designer.
I'm a book formatter.
I'm a promoter.
I'm a marketer.
I'm a publisher.
And now I've successfully gotten an author friend on their way to seeing their own book in both ebook and (soon to come) print formats so I guess I should call myself an enabler, too. 

But there is no word that seems to capture all that in a neat, succinct word.

I've heard "authorpreneur", which, while fitting, doesn't roll out of my mouth without me tripping over it. (Hey, I'm a writer, not a speaker!) And I like the word "creative" but calling myself a creative seems both fantastically sci-fi and terribly vague.

However, I get a 30-day respite from my identity crisis because…It's November! And I'm a NaNoer!
(Yes, it does deserve two explanation points. I give myself three to use a day and just blew through two in one line. I REGRET NOTHING.)

Originally, I was going to use NaNoWriMo to charge on through my serial-in-progress, CHARM CITY. In fact, I already had my profile up and ready to go for this past Sunday's start. It was going to be me, my exorcist, and his personal demons locked in a room for thirty days. I was coming out of that room with the second set of episodes come hell or holy water.

And then…Saturday happened.

I'd been reading an article on the seven points of story structure. I began musing how well it clarified some of the elements of the 15-count beat sheet I had recently starting working with. And then I read a submission call for a press looking for ghost stories and this little noise went off in my head.

Bing! Don't you have a story idea in your file already? said my brain.

I did. I brainstormed an idea several years ago that I'd really liked but I was too busy with other books to do anything about it. I'm glad I tucked it away in my writer's notebook because I decided that maybe I should use my story plotting tools to see if there was an actual story there.

horror, supernatural, paranormal, romantic elements
My ten-minute cover. (No teasing allowed.)

And, good Lord, there actually was a story. It just needed a little structure to make it stand up for itself.

So I spent Saturday thinking about that old story idea and started talking and plotting and coming up with the plot points needed to follow a solid, satisfying story flow.

And it looks like a lot of fun.

So, I told my exorcist his story could wait for a month. I have a new story that wants to be written.

It will be an experimental because generally, I'm a pantser. I like to write freely, to capture the scenes and sequels that preoccupy my thoughts and bring it all into story form once I've got a ton on paper and I know that the story won't go away until I finish it.

But this is plotting. Complete and utter outlined order. No chaos. No surprises. (I'd already written them.)

While I'd never NaNo'ed a novel from scratch, I have used the month to get a lot of words down in current projects. Two of my NaNo books are now published (Words That Bind and The Heartbeat Thief) so I know the power of inspiration and encouragement. That's why I want to try something completely new: armed with a solid plot outline, I want to harness the power of NaNoWriMo and see if I can get this book written. I have clear goals. I have full ideas.

All I need is the time to write it.

I have 30 days. Let's see if I can whip something up with those ingredients.

Writers: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? I'm on as ashkrafton ( so look me up. Let's encourage each other for a month and see what all we get written.

Let's be writers. It's a wonderful word.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Winners! #OctoberFrights 2015 Blog Hop

Just want to thank everyone who participated in this marathon of a blog hop.

I was lucky to hang with some pretty awesome writers and had a great time hearing from readers. But I know why you're here... you want to see the WINNERS!

And here they are...

Michelle Willms wins a print copy of THE HEARTBEAT THIEF
AF Stewart wins a print copy of BOXED & BROKEN
Kerry Alan Denney wins a print copy of M IS FOR MONSTER
Debbie Christiana, Lexa Cain, Jolie du Pre, and Heather Powers each win a Halloween goodie.
And they are totes adorbs...well, my idea of adorable, anyway.
Winners, I'll need your addresses so if you don't already have my email address, just use the contact form at
Thanks again, everyone. I hope everybody found a new favorite book or storyteller on this amazing hop.
And just remember, ghost stories aren't just for Halloween...  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Interview with Alex McGilvery, one of the authors of BEYOND THE WAIL

Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss
What is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.
Beyond the Wail is available at

Amazon (Kindle)

Amazon (Paperback)


Xchyler Publishing

OF MICE AND MONSTERS by Tirzah Duncan: Troubled by ghosts within and without, Benjamin struggles to become the man his girlfriend needs instead of the monster he is.

GO GENTLE by Julie Barnson: After the death of her boyfriend, a young musician uses her talents and a fabled violin to stop the fatal accidents at a dead man’s curve.

DEAD WATER by Amanda Banker: A stalled truck, an abandoned graveyard, and a town not found on any map take two brothers on a detour they’ll never forget. 

COLD SPOT by Jay Barnson: When a laptop is stolen from their computer security company, two high school buddies go to extremes to investigate. But, will they manage to return?

THE WEEPING LADY by A. F. Stewart: Eva Douglas must face her mother issues, past and present, when the disappearance of her sister forces a confrontation with a terrifying ghost.

THE POLTERGEIST AND AUNT BETTY by Ginger C. Mann: Aunt Betty is eccentric, but how much is ghost, how much is medication, and how much is just plain crazy?

THE ‘GRIM’ REAPER by L. K. McIntosh: When a soul reaper loses the source of their power,
they must either find the witch who stole it or a new purpose for living.

SHRINE OF MIRRORS by F. M. Longo: A spy on a mission becomes a believer in the supernatural when the theft of three ancient relics threaten to bring down the empire.

DEAD MAN HOCKING by T.N. Payne: A world-weary zombie learns to beware what you wish for, and not all sure bets are worth the gamble.

ST. PETER’S FISH by Alex McGilvery: Sam is a walking disaster of biblical proportions, but how much is he willing to sacrifice to escape, and will the Powers That Be allow it?

THE DIORAMA by Sebastian Bendix: A play set turns life around for Martin Taper, but things take a turn for the worse when he neglects it and the lonely child obsessed with it.

DATE DUE by Danielle E. Shipley: A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Interview with one of the authors from BEYOND THE WAIL... Alex McGilvery!

How did you come up with the concept of your story? This one started as a challenge. I was responding to a blog stating never start a story with the weather. I posted the first couple of paragraphs and got a good response. When the contest came up I knew it was time to finish the story.

How did you come up with the title?The fish in the story burps up gold coins. It is a direct reference to a fish Peter caught to pay taxes. 

Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.In the first iteration of the story the climax is a bar fight in Toledo and God is a biker. That either needed a full novel to deal with, or a switch to a heavy comedic tone. I shifted it around to match better with the contest.
What was the most surprising part of writing this book?The fork. I had no idea that blasted fork was going to show up and confuse everyone. In the end I like the concept. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?The biggest challenge was not to overdo the voice of the story. It would have been so easy to fall into writing the lilt instead of the story. I kept being reminded the story came first and making the words serve the tale, not the voice.

What are some of your other published works? In order of publication, The Unenchanted Princess, Playing on Yggdrasil, Sarcasm is my Superpower, By the Book, and Sparkles and Blood.

What is your advice to writers?Write. Really. You aren’t a writer if you don’t write. Then find someone to help you deconstruct your writing to help you make it better. Then write some more.

What's up next for you? I’m bringing out another collection of novellas in November called The Heronmaster and a middle grade book for Christmas called Unboring the Princess. I’m also resubmitting a fantasy novel which is the first in a trilogy. I’m in the initial planning stages of a collection of my romance stories called ‘Romantic Shorts’.

About the Author: ALEX MCGILVERY
Alex McGilvery is an author living in Flin Flon, Manitoba with his wife, Alex, and three dogs. He has been an avid reader all his life and wrote novels in his early teens. He has been writing short stories and poetry ever since. In addition to his first twenty-year work, he writes a novel every year through NaNoWriMo and another with the 3-Day Novel contest. He also writes reviews, specializing in indie authors, and works on short stories for contests.

He has now published five books, most recently Sparkles and Blood, a collection of horror novellas, edited an anthology along with the Flin Flon Writers Guild, and continues to be active in the Guild. In order to pay for his writing habit, Alex works full time as a minister in the United Church of Canada. Some of his parishioners wonder at the occasionally dark and twisted nature of his writing.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

One of the great horrors of my life:

Children's birthday parties.

I know, it sounds mean, but I'm a veteran mom. I've survived a fair share of kids parties. At-home parties with a billion tiny humans running around chasing the terrified dog. The dreaded McDonald's Playland party with the questionable ball pit. The indoor jungle gym thingie. We even rented a blow-up bounce house one year (and the moms hung out at the cotton candy machine and got blasted on sugar floss. Good times.)

And I survived them all.

But my kids are in high school now. I shouldn't have to live in fear of these things--I'm dealing with drivers permits and impending Social Security insurance options. I should be free and clear. I should be safely in the realm of The End Of The Horror Movie where all the living heave a sigh of relief and run free in the sunlight.

But nah.

My nephews are having a roller skating party. And I am a good aunt. Even though I'm definitely going to end up with a case of PTSD because this place is going to trigger memories of my own 11th birthday party when I thought terry cloth outfits and bandanas were cool and they played J Geils Band and Journey and oh my god makeitstop--

Thank heavens I brought my computer.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who participated in the #October Frights blog hop. In case you missed a post, you can go back and still enter:

I'll be picking winners and posting the list on Monday so be sure to stop back. In the meantime, hop a few of the other sites while you can.

Oh, yeah. Blind Alleys is still free today so if speculative fiction is your thing, help yourself. :) I've got to go scrape my husband off the carpet-covered wall on the skate floor. He's too old for this nonsense and when he can't get out of bed tomorrow there will be NO SYMPATHY.

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

October Frights Blog Hop (IX): Welcome to my World


Bleeding Hearts, Blood Rush, & Wolf's Bane
Enter the world of the Demimonde.
Look outside your window. Same old town, same streets, same people, same stories you've lived all your life. Or... are they?
Sophie Galen is an advice columnist from the suburbs of Philly. Like many sensitive women, she's done her best to create a shelter for herself in order to live in a safe, predictable world, protecting her vulnerable self: her mind, her heart, her soul.
Then he came into her life and blew the walls in.
When Marek Thurzo arrived, he brought with him all the secrets she never wanted to know: the world outside was not what she thought. There were people and creatures and powers she'd never dared to believe exist and at the very center of this humongous supernatural web was one single person.
Her. The Sophia. The one hope for redemption for the Demivampire race.
Some days, she still can't wrap her head around the whole thing. Other days...
...she's ready to do whatever it takes to protect her demivamps, no matter the obstacle, no matter the enemy, no matter the personal cost.
While meeting her deadlines, natch. Who says a girl can't multitask while saving the world?

BLEEDING HEARTS: Book One of the Demimonde was my first novel. It's also the first book in the Demimonde trilogy. I suppose once the story pulled me into its world, it wouldn't let me I kept writing.

I love to read fantasy stories, especially the ones that create such realistic and creative worlds that I'd happy move into the book if I could. (Some I'd be a little terrified to move in, but I'm pretty reckless. I'd do it anyway.)

When writing the Demimonde series, I got to play god and re-imagine Philly the way I wish it could be: full of demivamps, witches, and werewolves. I wouldn't even care if it meant avoiding my favorite cheesesteak joint on full moon nights.

In my world, advice columnists may actually be oracles waiting to manifest and German metal bands like Turn of the Wheel *just happen* to be touring. I mean, check out the tour shirts:

That's right. I'm so submerged in the world of the Demimonde that I had tour shirts made. That's dedication. :)

Ready for a chance to enter the October Frights Blog Hop giveaway? All it takes is a comment on this post.

Think about a book you love in part for the lush world-building. If you could introduce one element from that world into our own, what would it be? A creature? An ability? An aspect of human kind as yet undiscovered? Share your fantasy so we can all wish it comes true...

(And those t-shirts are seriously real. If you want one, I can tell you how to order one from Custom Ink. You didn't think I ironed them, did you? I don't even think I own an iron. Ask my husband. He'll vouch.)

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

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:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Enter if you dare: NOR HALLOWPALOOZA Scavenger Hunt

Hallowpalooza I'm one of the sponsors of the Night Owl Reviews HALLOWPALOOZA Scavenger Hunt.
During this event I'm going to help you find some great new books. Make sure to check my featured title out along the way. :)

The grand prize is a $100 Amazon Gift Card. The total prize pool is $1,000 with 113 winners.

Contest begins October 1st and runs all the way through to Halloween so you have loads of time to get every single entry in the scavenger hunt. (I've participated before so I'll warn ya...some are pretty tough to find. Don't wait until the last minute to join in!)

Enter HERE:


And there's more...if you enjoy poetry with a dark, romantic theme, check out:

October Frights 2015: Paranormal and Horror Author Blog Tour

Halloween Blog Hop Time!

This year I'm participating in Clarissa Johal's October Frights Blog Hop! (And it's huge...just check out the link list down below)

I'll be posting throughout the hop with different activities so be sure to stop back often :)

This year, I'm thinking along the lines of Prize-a-Palooza:
Print copy of The Heartbeat Thief: historical dark fantasy
Print copy of Boxed & Broken: spec fic anthology
Print copy of M is for Monster: horror
And I'm pretty sure I have some Halloweenish things that would like to creep their way into your home. :)

(Question is, do you trust my judgment?)

Entries will be collected through comment during the duration of the hop. At the end, entries will be placed in a pretend hat and winners drawn. (Actually they'll be numbers and will pick the lucky digits.)

Stop by each post throughout the hop and enter as many times as you please! There are a great bunch of authors participating and this is a great way to get to know everyone a little better...

Frightful Freebies

You might be too old to go door-to-door trick or treating, but that doesn't mean you doesn't deserve sweets. That's why during the blog hop I'll be offering free copies of two of my books on Amazon...grab 'em both!

Free on Kindle October 1-5: Ebook copy of The Scent of his Feathers
Free on Kindle October 6-10: Ebook copy of Blind Alleys

(Download your copy today. Everyone's a winner :)

SO let's get the ball's a mixer so entry will be easy.
Since this is a paranormal and horror author blog hop, you're most likely either a reader or a writer (or both!) Leave a comment telling us which one you are, and tell us one of your favorite books or stories in the genres. That's all! Let's see who's here and what we're most fond of reading....

Stop back tomorrow for another chunk of Halloween Hop fun, but visit the other authors today!

See who else is frightening us:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mia Thompson: On Stalking Sapphire's newest episode, fun in Helsingborg, and captive company with a literary hero.

Today, I'm visited by author Mia Thompson, one of my fellow writers at the Prose Cons blog. She's getting ready to release the latest title in her Stalking Sapphire series. I had the pleasure of getting to know her better and I think you're going to love her, too.

Welcome, Mia! Tell us about your series, Stalking Sapphire, and the latest installment, Sentencing Sapphire.

Mia: The series is about Sapphire Dubois, a Beverly Hills heiress/vigilante who secretly captures serial killers. Stalking Sapphire, the first book, picks up right before an inciting incident catapults Sapphire’s life into an irreversible change. Essentially, the books are about the two lives she leads and what happens when the wall she has put up between them starts to crack.  

We both write New Adult fiction. Recently, we chatted about my thoughts on the genre…let's talk about your view. What draws you to the audience and why do you write NA?

Mia: I love the boldness of NA. I don’t like to walk on egg shells when I write and, to me, New Adult is a genre that is meant to push boundaries. The readers, usually in their twenties, are now free of parental supervision and are pushing and breaking boundaries to figure out who they want to be. Writing for them feels natural for the way I write.

The ages-old question is "what came first: chicken or the egg?" Let's twist it and ask: what comes first, the story or the genre? Did you set out to write NA stories or did you develop your idea first then decide the best audience for it?

Mia: The story came first. I think I was twenty-three when I started it, so it felt more organic to build everything around a MC in her early twenties. Once I was writing it, and started researching books similar to it, I realized how few there were. New Adult had barely been coined back then, so I didn’t even know what my book was until my agent told me.

You were born in Sweden which automatically makes you cooler than me. Just so I can vicariously live through you, let's pretend I'm visiting Sweden and you are my travel agent. Tell me about your favorite must-see location, your favorite Swedish dish, and an activity I couldn't do better anywhere else.

Mia: Ha! I’d send you to Helsingborg, the harbor town I grew up in. It’s about 1000 years old, and only a twenty minute ferry ride away from Denmark. People often don’t even get off the ferry; they stay to eat good food and drink pilsner as the boat goes back and forth between Sweden and Denmark. It’s a phenomenon we call “Tura” and it’s a Must-Do in Helsingborg.

I’d send you there in August, just in time for the crawfish fest. Basically, we put on funny hats and eat crawfish that’s been resting in cold dill brine—delish. Every two minutes or so, someone will raise their schnapps and start singing a drinking song, at the end of which everyone around the table must empty their glasses. By the end, you’ll be full and drunk as a skunk. 

I think I'd really like that--it's been a long time I went on a crawfish binge. Never had them in a dill brine, though... dill is one of my favorite scents so I know I'd love it. Think I'll be Goodling a recipe later on today... 

Do you have a hero author? If you could spend a day with them doing anything you wanted, who would it be and what would you do? One caveat: you only have 100k to spend (so save it for bail money if necessary).

Mia: It’s a tough choice, I have several hero authors, but I have to pick Marian Keyes; I’ve devoured her books since I was a teen.

It would be a simple Talk & Tea session in her chic kitchen—I imagine her having a very chic kitchen—while we enjoyed some biscuits. However, five hours later, three of which she had spent asking me to leave because two hours is quite enough, I’d be hauled out the door by the police and charged with “Excessive and Invasive Brain Picking.” In which case the money would, indeed, become useful for both bail and upcoming fines. 

Well, that's only if she doesn't drop the charges. And, who knows, it might make for a good story after the restraining order is lifted...

Has anyone ever asked you if your stories are based on your own life? (I get asked that all the time, even though I write about vampires, werewolves, and other mostly-improbable creatures.) How do you answer them?

Mia: All the time. If I’m in a good mood, and they don’t know my books, I’ll respond: “Let’s hope not; I write about serial killers.” If I’m in a bad mood, and they do know my books, I’ll respond: “Yes, they are. I wrote them from prison.”

That would be awesome on a t-shirt :) Time to fire up PhotoShop!

I'd be a happy typer if being a writer meant 100% of my time went to, well, writing. (No such luck.) Do you have a tip for writer time management?

Mia: The bad news: Besides from prioritizing, I have nothing. The good news: I’m currently building a machine that freezes time for everyone but writers. As soon as I can get the cardulator, the dinklehopper, and other made up words to work, we’ll all get the writing time we need. Hell, we may even get to have a life!

I have a wild imagination, but even I have a hard time believing that "have a life" nonsense. This is all we get: writing, reading, and hanging out with other writers online as we muck on through. Where can we stalk find you online?

Mia: You can find me at...

You can also find me at where I’m currently running the book clubs for both Stalking Sapphire and, the second book, Silencing Sapphire.

stalking sapphire, series, NA

About The Author
Mia Thompson is a Swedish-born author living in Sacramento, California. Her international bestsellers, Stalking Sapphire and Silencing Sapphire, were published in 2013, and followed by the third book in the series, Sentencing Sapphire. Mia is currently working on completing the series’ last two installments, due out through Diversion Books in 2016 and 2017.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Early Halloween Fun: Upcoming NOR Hallowpalooza! #booklovers

Hallowpalooza I'm one of the sponsors of the Night Owl Reviews HALLOWPALOOZA Scavenger Hunt.
During this event I'm going to help you find some great new books. Make sure to check my featured title out along the way. :)
The grand prize is a $100 Amazon Gift Card. The total prize pool is $1,000 with 113 winners.

Contest begins October 1st so put a reminder in your calendar.!

Enter soon at:

And if that isn't enough excitement for today...

The Heartbeat Thief comes out in paperback tomorrow!

Here is a special offer just for this blog's readers. I won't promote it any other way so you guys are the only ones who will know about it!

Stop by tomorrow's post about the paperback release and leave a comment about the book cover art (I reeeaaalllly love the cover and hope you do, too.) Everyone who comments and leaves their email address will receive a signed poster of The Heartbeat Thief... and I've been known to slip special swag into random envelopes *wink*

I'll collect winners right through the end of next week (since I'll be blog touring Monday through Friday).

Thanks for hanging out this week... have fun with the scavenger hunt and hope to see you on release day! 

The Heartbeat Thief Print Release!

The Heartbeat Thief is out in paperback today--
grab it, hug it, never let it go.
You can still get the Kindle version here.
New release means...time to tour! Can't wait to meet new bloggers and new readers. Be sure to stop by next week!

Book Tour Schedule with Xpresso Book Tours
September 21st
Authors You Want to Read >> Guest Post
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!  >> Review
A British Bookworm’s Blog >> Excerpt
September 22nd
Book Briefs >> Review
Here’s to Happy Endings >> Review
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile >> Review
-In Wonderland >> Review
September 23rd
We Do Write >> Interview
Mythical Books >> Review
Fangirls Read It First >> Review
September 24th
The A P Book Club >> Review
CBY Book Club >> Excerpt
September 25th
Pieces of Whimsy >> Interview
Bookalicious >> Review
Reader Girls  >> Review
Bookwyrming Thoughts >> Guest Post