By Ashley Kath-Bilsky
What happens after we die? Do ghosts exist? Do all souls go to heaven? If not, do restless spirits haunt people and places? No matter where you live on this beautiful blue marble of a planet, the possibility of ghosts (or spirits) continues to haunt us.
Pictured is the cover of my Historical Paranormal Thriller, BETWEEN THE SHADOWS. I have to tell you, it is not a western. For those who do not know, I also write historical fiction set in other places and time periods. BETWEEN THE SHADOWS is set in England and Scotland in the year 1813. Scheduled for release 5 December 2015, it is the first book in THE LEGION OF MITHRAS series.
BETWEEN THE SHADOWS introduces Patience Sinclair, a 19-year old Scotswoman who realizes communicating with ghosts is just the beginning of her powers when she is asked to join a secret Legion of young, powerful lords to conquer evil in Regency England. THE LEGION OF MITHRAS series follows its heroine, Patience Sinclair, on a challenging journey to not only embrace that which has set her apart from others, but realize the importance of facing one's greatest fears to help others. Of course, I hope some (if not all of you) will read it.
For now, however, let's talk about how ghosts have influenced literature, films, and even history.
You may have visited a Ghost Town in the American West, where dusty streets and a neglected cemetery are all that remains of the people who once lived there? Perhaps you toured a castle in Scotland reputed to be haunted? I have and, trust me, there are several. You may even have experienced an adrenaline rush hearing ghostly footsteps behind your back. Or, a rush of cold air that came from out of nowhere. Was it just your overactive imagination or did that gathering mist take the shape of a person? Then again, perhaps you just love a good ghost story.
Popular fiction for children that also featured ghosts and/or addressed spiritualism have become classics which continue to enthrall young audiences, from ‘The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow’ by Washington Irving (1862) to the worldwide phenomenon of the amazing Harry Potter 7-book series (1997-2007) by J.K. Rowling.
Films, stage plays, and television continuously adapt many works of Gothic or paranormal fiction to their medium, and quite profitably.
Let’s face it; death is the final door through which we all must pass. And the number of people in the 21st century who still seek to obtain an answer to this ancient mystery has, if anything, grown stronger.
Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters are two popular television shows that focus on paranormal investigators as they endeavor to understand and investigate reported hauntings or paranormal activity. Armed with equipment and devices such as thermal and night vision cameras, EMF (electromagnetic field) monitors, digital video cameras and audio recording devices, they seek to prove (or disprove) the existence of ghosts or paranormal occurrences.
The concept of spiritualism, aka the ability to communicate with the dead, now brings me to The White House. Picture this. The country is at war. Death seems to surround everyone and, most likely, a sense of hopelessness as well. As America's then Commander-In-Chief wearily tries to focus his attention on the dire circumstances of his Presidency, he is also cognizant that his fragile wife is overcome with grief--unable to come to terms with the death of two of her young sons. And so it was that on 23 April 1863, President Abraham Lincoln attended a séance. Was it any wonder that Mary Todd Lincoln, lost in the enveloping waters of her sadness, grasped onto the possibility of communicating with her boys.
I tend to think that since Lincoln sanctioned the séances at The White House, he must have experienced some type of validation. One must also remember that Abraham Lincoln clearly had psychic ability of his own. Ten days before his Assassination, he experienced a prophetic dream that he would be killed. Three days before his death, he told his friend and biographer, Ward Hill Lamon, about the vivid, disturbing, recurring dream. Each night of the three nights leading up to the day of his Assassination, Lincoln had the same dream. Ultimately, on the fateful day, Lincoln told William H. Crook (a bodyguard) about the dreams. Although Crook advised Lincoln to not attend the play that evening, the President replied he'd promised his wife. Then, as he departed The White House, Lincoln said 'goodbye' to Crook, the first and only time he'd said that to the man. Before that instance, Lincoln always bid Crook 'goodnight'.
After the assassination of her husband, Mary Todd Lincoln's interest in spiritualism increased. She continued to attend and participate in séances. Whether or not the mediums whose services she sought were truly gifted we will never know. One can only hope they did not prey upon such a fragile lady who had lost so much and suffered such heartbreaking losses.
According to Lincoln biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of Lincoln's neighbors in Illinois asked if he believed in a future realm after death. Lincoln allegedly replied, "I'm afraid there isn't. It isn't a pleasant thing to think that when we die, that is the last of us."
A very intriguing photo taken in 1950 appears to show the full body ghostly apparition of a man believed to be Abraham Lincoln. From 1949-1952, President Harry S. Truman authorized necessary structural renovations of The White House.
Joshua P. Warren discusses his extensive research on the photograph in a short video on his website. If you would like to see the video, or learn more about this photograph and the research conducted by paranormal investigator and author, Joshua P. Warren, visit: http://freecharm.com/WhiteHouseGhostPhoto.html
One can only speculate if Lincoln haunts the White House. If so, why? Does he perhaps feel his job was not quite finished, and has remained in spirit to guard The White House, or its inhabitants? What wisdom does he wish to impart, if indeed his spirit lingers? Can a physical death destroy an intangible soul? Or, does that soul move on and--on occasion--visit the living? Just like on All Hallows' Eve.
Happy Halloween! And if you are looking for a thrilling ghost story, please check out my book, BETWEEN THE SHADOWS, scheduled for release on December 5th. ~ AKB
Saturday, October 31, 2015
SEEKING ANSWERS FROM THE GRAVE: FROM BETWEEN THE SHADOWS & GHOSTS IN LITERATURE, TO SEANCES AT THE WHITE HOUSE
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Who’s ready for a Halloween and Fall story sale? With Halloween right around the corner and Autumn already upon us, Prairie Rose Publications is letting the bargains fly! So settle in for a nice juicy list of some wonderful books you can really “sink your teeth into” and enjoy. These stories are sure to put you in a “chilling” mood, but bring warmth to your heart!
Our 2014 two-volume boxed set of western historical romance stories with a spooky twist is now available for the lowest price ever. BOTH VOLUMES OF COWBOYS, CREATURES, AND CALICO CAN BE YOURS FOR ONLY .99! This double set includes twelve deliciously creepy tales by such authors as Lorrie Farrelly, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Tanya Hanson, Sarah J. McNeal, Kathleen Rice Adams, Cheryl Pierson, C. Marie Bowen, Cher’ley Grogg, Kristy McCaffrey, Jacquie Rogers, Kaye Spencer, and Shayna Matthews. You can’t go wrong for only .99—take a look!
COWBOYS, CREATURES, AND CALICO BOXED SET
Love anthologies? Try this on for size! NINE DEADLY LIVES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FELINE FICTION. With THIRTEEN great stories included, this is one collection you won’t want to pass up! From magic to murder, from felines to faeries, the authors of NINE DEADLY LIVES spin thirteen tales featuring those sometimes aloof and occasionally dangerous but always adorable creatures we know and love as cats! Whether it's mystery, fantasy, historical, or romance, these cat tales provide plenty of entertainment and thrills!
NINE DEADLY LIVES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FELINE FICTION
We’ve got a ton of short stories that just released as .99 single sell stories, as well. If you’re looking for “out of the ordinary” historical tales, try some of these:
THE CROW AND THE BEAR—by Kristy McCaffrey—OCTOBER 2015 NEW RELEASE
The Crow and the Bear
ANGEL OF SALVATION VALLEY—by Doris McCraw w/a Angela Raines—OCTOBER 2015 NEW RELEASE
Angel of Salvation Valley
The following stories are included in COWBOY, CREATURES, AND CALICO, and are also available in single sell formats, as well:
Sarah J. McNeal—The Beast of Hazard
Tanya Hanson—The Bridesmaid
Shayna Matthews—The Legend Of Venture Canyon
Kristy McCaffrey—The Crow and the Coyote
Kristy McCaffrey— Lily and Mesquite Joe
Kaye Spencer—For Love of a Brystile Witch
This talented author also has a PRP “duo” of two just-released novellas available. HUNTER features her charismatic Cajun bounty hunter, who also makes a lengthy appearance and plays an important role in her novel PROPHECY. One taste of Ms. Bowen’s story magic won’t be enough—you will want every one of these wonderful books. HUNTER is available for only $1.99!
He is a hunter...despite being a scion of one of the most respected families of the ton, he enjoys solving the mysteries that life presents...at a price. And he is hot on the trail of a burglar robbing the titled members of London society. She is saddled with a scatterbrained, matchmaking Grandmother and a retired battman for a butler...and a black cat named Romeo...and carries a world of secrets. One slip and it will cost her everything.
Neither is seeking romance...only sometimes love happens when you least
If you’re “on the prowl” for some spine tingling thrills contemporary-style, try MILE MARKER 59, by B.J. Betts.
With the help of the local sheriff, Michael Morris, and the victim of yet another near-tragic wreck at MILE MARKER 59, secrets are uncovered—and spells are finally broken. Can Marissa Daniels face a supernatural danger more powerful than anything she ever could imagine? Asking Michael to help her unravel the mystery of the Sioux curse that exists in that spot could lead to his death—and hers. The occurrences at MILE MARKER 59 are what holds this little town’s secrets in silence—and what could rip Marissa’s life apart…
If that doesn’t give you the shivers, I don’t know what will! But if you’re looking for more Halloween chills and thrills, grab a copy of B.J. Betts’s story BELLE’S CROSSING! This novella was released last year and is one of creepiest stories you will ever read—and both of these tales were based on true stories!
Time Plains Drifter received a 4.5 star rating from Romantic Times Magazine! It’s on sale right now for only .99! Snap it up!
WITCH GOT YOUR TONGUE is the first novel in the Tongue Tied Witch series by best-selling novelist Livia J. Washburn. Aren McAllister, the Tongue-Tied Witch, returns in A PECK OF PICKLED WARLOCKS. In this sequel to the critically acclaimed WITCH GOT YOUR TONGUE, Aren searches for a way to rescue her father from the other-worldly realm of the witches' council. From the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast to the bright lights of Las Vegas to the dangerous depths of an abandoned silver mine, Aren's quest is filled with adventure, romance, and humor.
Misadventures of a Tongue-Tied Witch: Boxed Set: Witch Got Your Tongue & Peck of Pickled Warlocks
Everyone should have career at which they excel. At failing to commit crimes, nobody is better than Laredo and Tombstone Hawkins. Maybe they can bumble their way into love.
The Worst Outlaw in the West and Family Tradition are the two stories that comprise this double novella set for only $1.99—a “steal” you will not want to miss!
Three criminals who’ve lost everything… three women who have nothing to lose…is it love or magic that bring them together? The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.
In the wild west, decades before Willowby, Wyoming was founded, Stink Carmichael robbed a stage coach of the famous Dakota Diamonds and was never heard from again. When Jo Harper and her best friend Frog find the loot in a hidden cellar, old secrets come out and greed can't help but rear its ugly head. When Frog disappears and Jo is accused of pilfering the diamonds herself, things can't get any worse. But Constable Abby Drake has a few secrets of her own and a sack of warm, flaky breakfast rolls might just be the key to saving the day.
Once you start reading Rich’s stories about Jo and the people in Willowby, you can never leave…uh, quit.
Dogbread and Diamonds (Jo Harper Book 7)
For the younger crowd, how about a boxed set of FIVE novels about the American west, with both historical and contemporary settings? This entire set is just .99, and will provide hours of entertaining reading for ages 9 and up. Stories by Sara Barnard, Livia and James Reasoner, and Richard Prosch are included in this "FABULOUS" collection that you won't want to miss. Yep, one of these stories has a definite "spooky" flavor. Take a look at Livia and James Reasoner's contribution, THE PHANTOM RANGER AND THE SKATEBOARD GANG. Here's a bit about it:
Codi Jackson has started a new school—again. Will she ever be able to settle down in one place and make friends? It seems unlikely, especially now that she has the ghost of her great-great-great grandfather appearing at the most inconvenient times! How can she explain him to her history project partner—and her own father? But Codi is determined to come to her dad’s rescue when he corrals a gang of young thieves on skateboards at a nearby mall—and they get some very unlikely help
Do you love a good ghost romance? Livia J. Washburn's SPIRIT CATCHER is now available in A COWBOY's TOUCH which includes novels by Cheryl Pierson, Kathleen Rice Adams, and Kit Prate.
Included in DARK TRAIL RISING are: THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, SHOT FOR A DOG, and HIDDEN TRAILS.
Dark Trail Rising: Four Tales of the Old West
We are so proud to present our Fall/Halloween line-up and hope you will find some very entertaining reading here that you will enjoy reading and re-reading for years to come!(I will be out of town when this post is up but I will answer comments when I return home on the 2nd of November!) HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!
Monday, October 26, 2015
Do you believe in ghosts? I do. This time of year, tales of hauntings appear to thrill or frighten us. Here is a replay of a guest post from last year about ghosts in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
|Fort Worth Stockyards on Exchange Street off Main Street|
Cowtown Winery Haunted Stockyards Tour
By Bea Smith
The Stockyards actually have a branch of the Trinity River flowing under Exchange, the main street. Many people believe that water holds spiritual activity and heightens paranormal activity.
The Stockyards Hotel was built in 1910 and was a crown jewel of a hotel, attracting rich oil tycoons. Bonnie and Clyde reportedly stayed in room 305, which overlooked Merrick Fine Western Wear, then a jewelry store, and the bank nearby. Two stories are told about their stay. One is that they rented the room to stake out the two businesses, but they liked Fort Worth so much they decided not to rob it. The other is that they told the owners of the bank and the jewelry store that they weren’t there to rob them or cause any trouble; Bonnie and Clyde were just hiding out from the law until things cooled down a bit.
The Stockyards Hotel has a full-bodied apparition named Jesse. He’s a cowboy who couldn’t have afforded to stay in the Stockyards at the time. People speculate that he just wanted to stay there in the afterlife. Visitors hear his spurs jingling as he walks through the hall or see him but he never interacts with anyone.
People feel the presence of a former employee, Jake. He was a messenger from the 1900’s and he loved his job of 30 -40 years. Visitors feel hot and cold spots and some of his physical duties are still taken care of: if guests leave their room unlocked, it will be locked when they return. For the last 30 years, the phone rings after hours. No one is there and the call cannot be traced, put on hold, or transferred.
Love Shack, owned by Tim Love. Ten years ago or so, an Australian couple was vacationing in the Stockyards and staying in the hotel. They had been having a wonderful time and seemed to be very happy. One early morning the man woke up his fiancée, very energized and agitated, and said he had something to show her. She followed him across the street to the closed restaurant, where he climbed to the second floor and threw himself off the balcony headfirst, dying instantly. She later said she felt some evil force had inhabited her lover.
Exchange Building: Rodeo Arena: Had a rodeo since 1908. Hotbed of paranormal activity. There is a phantom black horse that runs around the arena.
Apparitions are of a deceased cowboys in old-time clothing. The rodeo was very dangerous and many lost their lives during the performance. EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon; conversation not heard by the human ear) record hearing a voice saying, “Cow, cow, cow.” And “Pig, pig, pig.”
People have also recorded seeing the spirit of Quanah Parker, who was the first Native American to ride in a rodeo.
Exchange Building: A man’s small child followed him to work in the
early 1900’s. He wasn’t sure what to do with her, so he let her wander around.
She went to play in the vault and an employee inadvertently locked her in. She
wasn’t discovered in the airtight building until the next morning, where she
had suffocated. Employees say they get
an eerie feeling upstairs. They see a little girl running around playing and
trying to get their attention. She looks out windows at dawn. One early
morning, there were hand prints on the inside of the
door. The paranormal team from the stockyards found two prints.
|Exchange Rodeo Arena|
The body of a prostitute was found inside years ago when prostitution was a licensed profession. She was probably murdered offsite and then dumped there. Her rose-scented perfume, for which she was known, can still be smelled on tours.
Armour Swift Corporate Building: 1900’s-1970’s. Arson destroyed the
building and, with all the residual animal fat, it took 1 month to put out
completely. The Spaghetti Warehouse was there after the building was rebuilt,
but they couldn’t keep staff. Silverware would fly, things would be moved,
strange noises, and creepy feelings.
It’s a power company now.
|Former Spaghetti Warehouse, now offices.|
Riscky’s Steakhouse: A Brothel was above--a high class brothel; more expensive. The last member of the Riscky family is very embarrassed about the brothel and won’t let people go up there. She threw everything away—but one red rocker, owned by the Madam, mysteriously reappeared in the building. The bells that signaled the men that their time was up are still there and working. The windows where the women would stand to attract customers have been boarded up because people kept seeing apparitions of working women standing and posing in them.
Saunders Park: When it was Hell’s Half Acre, people would take care of disputes by shooting at each other. Dead or dying were dumped into the river by the park. Sometimes the water was red with blood. Divers report that there are too many human bones to count remaining on the bottom of that part of the river.
Miss Molly’s B and B: Molly is actually the name of the
lead cow in the simulated cattle drive and the mascot of FW. The actual Madam was Miss Josie. It was a speakeasy until the 1930’s, then became a low end
The girls were actually 11-15 years old. Most of the girls were orphans or runaways. Miss Josie was abusive. She didn’t take any guff from the male customers and was known to throw them out on the street. She was very obese and ill-tempered. The girls had huge quotas and, if they didn’t meet them or they talked back, Josie would lock them in the closet without food, water, or facilities as long as she felt they needed. Girls were very competitive and would poison each other’s food and lotion, resulting in some violent illnesses and deaths.
Miss Josie had a daughter, father unknown, who she abused terribly. When the little girl was 8 years old, she disappeared. Everyone thought Josie had killed her but it was never investigated. One time a little girl on the ghost tour had her hair pulled and said that “Mary was messing with her.” No one had told the little girl that Josie’s daughter was named Mary. The owner keeps toys for Mary that no one else is allowed to play with, and the playthings move around.
Josie’s room and the Cowboy’s room are the most haunted. Men have their shoulders rubbed or their heads patted, but women report feeling very unwelcome and watched.
Longhorn Saloon: Three
cowboys stopped to drink, boys between 15 and 17. They got drunk and got back
on what they thought were their horses. The men whose horses they stole
confronted them and the boys were hanged in the saloon. Now women in the Ladies bathroom report
having their legs tugged and feeling like they are being watched.
|The real Miss Molly leading the herd|
Cowtown Winery: The paranormal team that works the Stockyards swept the building and found just as much activity as Miss Molly’s. It used to be a Chinese Laundromat with the family living above. People feel the presence of a young boy. A medium said he was killed by an abusive parent, who kept him in a cupboard behind the bar. There is an old-fashioned sock monkey doll no one admits to having brought in. It will disappear for days, then reappear in odd places.
Another presence is also felt. Wine is spilled during the night, crackers are spilled, and cases topple over. The motion detector is never tripped. People hear glass break and rush in, but nothing is broken.
|Cowtown Winery, start and end of ghost the tour|
While the guide was talking about the little boy, the street light in the alley was flickering. When she got to the story of the other presence, it went out with a “Pop!” Everyone jumped, watched, and then laughed at themselves. As the tour dispersed and the guide went back in, one of the remaining tourists said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the light came back on?”
And it did.