Monday, October 31, 2011

Santa Muerte ~ Saint Death

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See Monday's giveaway post here.

Although worship of goddesses is becoming increasingly mainstream in the United States, the dominant religion in America has always been decidedly patriarchal. Mexico, dominated by Spanish culture and ruled for years by a strict form of Catholicism, may at first glance seem to be an even more patriarchal society. Yet the goddesses of the Aztecs and other indigenous Mexican peoples never really went away. Subsumed into Our Lady of Guadalupe and, more recently, Santa Muerte, goddess worship is making its way into Mexican and Mexican-American cultures. Similarly, Haitian immigrants to the United States are spreading the worship of Maman Brigitte, a cult figure similar to Santa Muerte.


Santa Muerte, whose name means “Sacred Death” or “Saint Death,” is a figure worshiped increasingly in Mexican and Mexican-American communities. Although references to her date back to about 1965, she’s gained popularity in the last 25 years or so. Sometimes depicted as a skeleton or a woman with a skull face, Santa Muerte often holds the traditional European symbols of mortality, such as the Grim Reaper’s scythe or an hourglass. These images were influenced by European art. Different aspects of Santa Muerte are invoked for different purposes: Black Santa Muerte for cursing enemies, White Santa Muerte for cleansing and blessing, and Red Santa Muerte for petitions of love, lust and passion. The red aspect of Santa Muerte is said to be the most popular.

In the indigenous Mexican religion, Santa Muerte’s antecedent is Mictlantecihautl or Mictecacihautl, “The Lady of the Land of Death.” She’s a sort of Mexican Persephone, mistress of the god of the dead and protector of souls in the underworld. The original Day of the Dead, observed at the end of July/beginning of August, was dedicated to her. The Spanish moved it to the Christian All Souls’ Day, November 2nd. Her color is red, and offerings of blood were made to ask her for a peaceful death.

In her red aspect, Santa Muerte resembles Tlazolteotl, the Aztec goddess of love and sexuality. Called “the lady of filth,” Tlazolteotl presided over pleasure. Her priestesses were sacred prostitutes. Owls were sacred to her, and depictions of Santa Muerte with an owl perched on her shoulder reflect Tlazolteotl.

For many worshipers, Santa Muerte is more powerful than the traditional icon of Mexican Catholicism, The Virgin of Guadalupe. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is said to have appeared to an Aztec man on the hill of Tepeyac on December 12, 1531. (The twelfth of December is the Catholic Church’s Feast of Immaculate Conception, honoring Mary.) of She told him to present himself to the Catholic, Spanish archbishop of Mexico City. When he did, his cloak was miraculously filled with blooming roses and the image of Mary standing on top of a crescent moon. A church was built in honor of the Virgin on that hill, and today the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Christianity’s most visited shrine. The Aztec man was baptized and renamed Juan Diego; his Nahuatl-language name is lost to history.


The name “Guadalupe,” which is also the name of a town in Spain, but which seems to have no direct connect to the saint’s appearance at Tepeyac, may be from the Nahuatl word “coatlaxopeuh.” The word sounds rather like “Guadalupe,” and translates as “she who crushes the serpent.” The serpent represented the native Mexican religion. Thus, the mother of Jesus was out to crush the indigenous religion. At the same time, she absorbed aspects of it.

The Virgin of Guadalupe’s indigenous antecedent is Tonatzin, the Moon Goddess, a milder aspect of Coaticue. Coaticue was the Lady of the Serpent Skirt, the creator-goddess who gave birth to all the deities and to earthly life as well. At death, she swallowed living things back into her body. She was also goddess of the moon and stars. She wore a necklace of skulls (like India’s Kali) and, as her name implies, a skirt of serpents. She is sometimes depicted as wearing a skirt made from the penises of her sacrificial victims.


Tonantzin, to whom the shrine at Tepeyac hill was originally dedicated before the basilica was built, was a gentler form of the Lady of the Serpent Skirt. She was worshiped at the Winter Solstice, when she walked among the people in a white gown covered with feathers and seashells. Her symbolic death mimicked the apparent “death” of the sun at the solstice, on the shortest day of the year. Tonantzin, like Mary, was called “Our Mother,” and she was revered as the giver of corn to the human race. She’s worshiped as goddess of the fertility of both the earth and of human beings. Tonantzin’s other name is Chicomecoatl, or “Seven Serpent,” seven being her sacred number. As Chicomecoatl she forms a holy trinity with Xilonen (“Young Corn Mother”) and Ilamatecuhtli (“Old Princess”).

Another Central American deity, Maman Brigitte, also has roots in the European religions. Maman Brigitte, a goddess of death in the Voodou religion, is a spiritual descendant of Brigid, the Irish Celtic mother goddess, or “Mary of the Gaels,” as she was known to Irish Christians. Brigid, or Bride (pronounced “Breed”) was also worshiped in parts of Spain and France. She may have come to Haiti via Scottish or Irish indentured servants.


Like Santa Muerte and Coaticue, Maman Brigitte is associated with death; she’s said to inhabit cemeteries. She drinks a mixture of rum and hot peppers; extremely hot peppers are used as test of validity on women claiming to be possessed by Maman Brigitte. Her dancing skills are legendary, and her dance is a sexually suggestive one.

According to Brigitte’s followers, after a person dies, her soul enters the waters, and she loses all consciousness. It’s from here that Brigitte retrieves her. Like Persephone in Greek mythology, she is goddess not only of death but also of resurrection. Like Mictlantecihautl, she protects the dead, especially if their graves are marked with a cross. Like Brigid in Celtic mythology, Maman Brigitte is also prayed to for healing.

Despite the strong influence of Catholicism and Christianity in modern American cultures, indigenous deities survive. In fact, ancient goddesses thrive and are becoming a more important part of mainstream religion by the day. Slowly but surely, matriarchy is making a comeback.

References

Gray, Steven. “Santa Muerte: The New God in Town.” October 16, 2007. Accessed March 15, 2010 from the Time Magazine website at http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1671984,00.html.

Leovy, Jill. “Santa Muerte in L.A.: a gentler vision of ‘Holy Death.’” December 7, 2009. Viewed March 16, 2010 on the Los Angeles Times website at http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/07/local/la-me-muerte7-2009dec07?pg=3.

Negro, Brujo. (n. d.) Viewed March 16, 2010 from the Brujeria website at http://www.brujonegrobrujeria.com/page/page/2215114.htm.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe.” (n. d.) Viewed March 16, 2010 from the Sancta website at http://www.sancta.org/intro.html.

Roibin. “South-American Realm.” (n. d.) Accessed March 16, 2010 from the Shrine of the Forgotten Goddesses website at http://inanna.virtualave.net/southamerican.html.

“The Ancestral Lwa - Baron, Maman Brigitte, and the Lwa Ghede.” September 24, 2009. Viewed March 16, 2010 at the Meta Religion website at http://www.meta-religion.com/World_Religions/Voodoo/ancestors.htm.

Wolf, Eric R. (n. d.) “The Virgin of Guadelupe: A Mexican National Symbol.” Viewed March 16, 2010 on the Mexica Uprising website at http://www.mexicauprising.net/ericwolf1.pdf.

“Virgin of Guadalupe, or Aztec Goddess?” (n. d.) Viewed March 16, 2010 at the Wilson’s Almanac website at http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/guadalup.html.

Photo credits:
Red Santa Muerte - public domain image
Virgin of Guadalupe - LaserLes, Creative Commons license
Kali - public domain image
St. Brigid of Ireland - public domain image

This is an affiliate link:

Understanding the Prophetic Times We Live In by ASR Martins. $10.26 from Smashwords.com
This book is about the end-times. The aim of this book is to bring clarity and to counter confusion in the lives of many Christians regarding the end-times, especially regarding the prophetic time we live in at this moment. Clarity will equip and enable God’s children to follow His vision for, and in this time period we are living in right now.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ready For the Next Blog Hop? Thanks for the Books event


Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See Monday's giveaway post here.

As much fun as we're having with the CoffinHop, we don't want the fun to end with All Saints' Day, right? Right. To that end, I present the Thanks for the Books Blog Hop, November 1-14, hosted by Grace Fonseca at Livre de Amour.


To enter the giveaway, follow Pagan Spirits book blog through Google Friend Connect, then leave a comment on this post, or any post that debuted during the contest period (November 1-14, 2011). Please include an e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you win. I am in the U.S., but both U.S. and international submissions will be accepted. The winner will be chosen randomly.

The prize is a grab bag of three paperback books:

Steamlust: Steampunk Erotic Romance, edited by Kristina Wright
The Transformation by Natasha Rostova - Erotica
The Heights: A Contemporary Imagining of Wuthering Heights by Brian James - Young Adult Romantic Fiction

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Blog Swap Winning!

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See Monday's giveaway post here.

I'm pleased to report that I received a most exciting package from Celia Ybarra at Celia's Way. She and I had each other in the Halloween Blog Swap hosted by Rachel at You Just Can't Google Everything and Star of Star's Pink World.

Please excuse my photos. I'm much more of a wordsmith than a visual artist. My preferred medium is collage, not photography. And I don't want to hear it if you can spot the asparagus stain my dad got on my Bed, Bath and Beyond tablecloth.

Now, what could possibly be inside this seasonally-appropriate orange and purple tissue paper?


I think I'll open the little ones first.


Cool! It's three cute little scarecrows, and nail polish in pumpkin orange, black and sparkly purple.


These little scarecrows will make friends with my collection of little wooden Halloween decorations. Now for the biggest package:


Celia thought of everything, right down to this personalized gift label with some beautiful sunny limes. I wonder what's inside?


Pure chocolaty, nutty joy! Thank you, Celia!

Texas is a long way from the Midwest, and I send her package USPS rather than FedEx, but I really hope she gets her package before Halloween. I'll be bummed out if Celia does not get to open the chocolate-dipped Halloween Oreos and other goodies I sent her in a box wrapped in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."


Now jump back into the Coffin Hop and get your own trick-or-treat swag from some fab horror authors!

This is an affiliate link:

Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky Places by Daniel Hardie. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
Enter a world of the unknown and the paranormal, where strange ghostly and haunting happenings take place all over the world. Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky places is a book that explores ghostly realms in haunted houses, haunted hotels, historic castles and cursed graveyards. Read this book... if you dare.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Online Dating: 5 Tips on How to Avoid the Risks

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See Monday's giveaway post here.

We’ve all been there. On some horrifying date that your best friend set you up on where it was all you could do not to get up and run for the door…leaving you questioning your friendship with your “best friend” and the entire human race in general.

So maybe now you’ve decided to try your luck on the internet dating scene. Well, the good news is there are many positives about using the World Wide Web to begin a quest for a romantic relationship with another human being. But with the good comes a few risks. And unfortunately in this day in age, having your heart ripped out and stomped on isn’t the only thing you have to watch out for.

There are several dangers involved with online dating and if you plan to join the cyberspace arena of love, you’ve not only got to arm yourself with the knowledge to maintain a heart that is intact, but with the knowledge to maintain your safety as well.

 Tip #1: Be careful when creating your profile. Being that your information is available to anyone once it reaches the web, it is extremely important that you do not include any personally identifying details in your online dating profile. While you should create a profile that is chalk-full with plenty of original information that will set you apart from the rest of the online daters out there, here are a few items in which to omit:
• Home address
• Business address
• Phone number
• Personal email address

After you get to know someone via a safe and secure online dating site, then it would be appropriate to exchange emails and phone numbers—but take it slow when exchanging information and make sure this person has made you feel comfortable and is worthy of your trust.

Tip #2: Watch out for evil con artists. For the most part, the majority of online daters are just like you: innocent daters subscribed to dating sites, looking for love with good intentions in mind. But there are, however, some subscribed for reasons not so pure. Recently, many online daters have fallen victim to the twisted hands of financial scammers. These people are con artists who are signed up to dating websites to prey on others by seeking out their vulnerabilities with the goal of financial gains. If you think you could be dealing with a scammer, be on the lookout for these tell-tale warning signs:
• Profile pictures that resemble a model straight out of a magazine
• Confusing names or conflicting information is given
• Love is confessed at warp-speeds
• Flowers and other gifts are sent right away
• Poor grammar/language that doesn’t align with their alleged education level/career/life status
• Asking for money to help with some dire situation

Tip #3: Watch out for two-timing, married cheaters. Unfortunately, there are creeps out there who are signed up to dating sites, typing away to singles whilst wearing a token of forever around their left ring finger. No one wants to get involved with someone who is married. So before you find yourself wrapped up in the throes of some sorted love affair, look out for these red flags that will warn you if someone you met online has seemed to forget about their vows:
• Zero profile picture
• Erratic/irregular responses, emails and phone calls OR calling on a very strict schedule
• The person asks for your phone number but is unwilling to give you theirs—you might get a cell number if anything


Tip #4: Date in a safe fashion. This doesn’t mean you have to pack a Taser or brush up on your kickboxing skills before you go on a date, it just means you need to arm yourself with the smarts to play it safe…because you just never know who you could be meeting. Follow these first date guidelines and you are unlikely to find yourself in a questionable situation:
• Never have your online friend pick you up from your home or place of business—meet them at a crowded, public venue.
• Make sure you let a friend or family member know the name of your date and where the two of you are going. Call this friend or family member when you get home to let them know you arrived back safely and in one piece.
• Be observant and aware of your surroundings at all times. As alcohol is known to hamper judgment, it is a good idea to keep the drinks to a minimum.
• Never leave drinks or personal belongings unattended.

Tip #5: Always play the game by your rules. If you and your online fling have decided to exchange numbers or to meet up for a date, be sure to always keep things on your terms. Don’t let someone talk to into doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Listen to your gut—if you feel like something is wrong, there is a good chance that it is. It is best to trust your intuitive side rather than trust someone you don’t know who could possibly subject you to harm. Don’t be ashamed of your precautionary behavior—remember, your safety is of upmost importance and those who have the right intentions will respect and understand your need for protection.

The above article comes to us from guest poster, Amy Reynolds, who writes on topics such as this for some of the best adult dating sites.

Note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I present this post to help increase awareness of relationship violence.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maxim Jakubowski releases 'Ekaterina and the Night'


Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See Monday's giveaway post here.

I'm thrilled to have had the chance to interview renowned author and editor Maxim Jakubowski. If you're not familiar with his biography, he's of Russian-English and Polish descent, lived for many years in France and currently resides in London. As a preface to this interview, I have to tell my Maxim Jakubowksi story. A few years ago, I got an e-mail from him as he was editing The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 9. I'd submitted a story, but Mr. Jakubowski wrote to me to suggest an alternative title of mine he'd seen published online ("Iced"). I wrote back...beginning my e-mail with "Dear Ms. Jakubowski." I still get embarrassed when I recall this, but at the time I didn't realize that little "e" at the end of French names was the difference between masculine and feminine. Because of the Harry Potter books, I knew the feminine French name Maxime, which caused me to assume that Mr. Jakubowski was a Ms. Jakubowski.

Apparently he didn't hold it against me, though, because my story was included in the anthology. My name is even on the back cover of the U.K. version, though not the U.S. version. Then, through the lovely and talented Lucy Felthouse, he agreed to do the following interview.

How did it feel to be voted the “second sexiest writer” in 2007?

- Most amusing. Although I'd preface this by mentioning this was actually the second sexiest crime writer. I was leading the poll for a whole week until on the final day a whole block of votes came in for the lovely Peter May and I was pipped at the post. Seems my wife and daughter voting for me just wasn't enough. Anyway, it was a fix: Peter is hairy white-haired and bearded Scot who has been to wear a kilt at literary events and his legs weren't even that good! And, amongst crime writers, surely ladies like the delectable Mo Hayder, the fragrant Alex Barclay and Pocket Venus Megan Abbott are prettier than us ugly blokes?

Before Ekaterina and the Night, which was your favorite of your novels to write?

-Its counterpart in the dyptich, The State of Montana, because it was written over just 2 weeks in a state of white heat and I never had time to wallow in despair at its slow progress or ask myself if I was doing the right thing.

Who was the inspiration for Ekaterina?

-Someone I once loved. But she is the only one who would now recognize herself in the character, as I take great care in muddying the waters and seeing that all my fiction becomes a hall of mirrors where reality and fiction are so intricately cooked together that not an unlikely future biographer would be able to separate the truth from the wonderful lies.


Have you ever been attracted to someone older?

-No. Which I reckon says a lot about me. The woman I married is two years older than me, but that's such a small difference I reckon it doesn't count. Does it? Or am I a toyboy?

Early in your career, you were known as a science fiction writer and editor. What caused you to shift your interest toward crime fiction and erotica?

-Even my SF had sexual elements, which was actually something of a hindrance. Everything I have always written has been sexual by nature or, at any rate, sensuous. So when I moved into the crime and thriller genre, it just made sense continuing in that vein (and the coexistence of sexual elements and crime go better together, anyway), and onwards to eliminating all genre tropes and just writing some erotica books pure and simple.

Does being multilingual make you a better writer?

-I don't believe so. Actually, it is something of a problem at times, as gallicisms infiltrate my prose without my noticing it. Thank God for copy editors! I also frequently translate from French, so that's an additional possibility of contamination. And can't say my Italian or Spanish have any sideways effect on matters, though.

What do you think it is about French-speaking men that makes you so sexy?

-The fact that some of us are not actually French! Seriously though, modesty forbids me from elaborating on this...

Which country do you see as being more sex-positive in its reading tastes, the U.K. or the U.S.?

-Superficially, one might say England. But... there is not just one America: readers on the Coasts or University towns are at opposite poles to the great unwashed Mid-West, and similarly in the UK, certain areas prove more prudish than others.

*****

Lolita meets Story of O, another memorable tale of love, sex and feelings from ‘the King of the erotic thriller’

When Ekaterina meets Alexander a shockingly sexy but tender romance develops.

She is a young Italian trainee journalist, who dreams of wild sexual adventures. He is the older Englishman who she believes can fulfill her fantasies. When Ekaterina is sent to interview the ageing writer Alexander in London, she is blinded by his charm and experience. Their relationship explodes in a sensual orgy, which defies society’s acceptance.

When a mysterious angel of death who calls herself Emma enters their lives, Ekaterina and Alexander know their days together are numbered.

A shocking climax set in Venice in winter brings the three protagonists together.

A tale of sex and tenderness that ranks alongside Jakubowski classic The State of Montana.

Ekaterina and the Night buy links:

Paperback (available in the US slightly later than the UK)

Amazon U.K.
Amazon U.S.
The Book Depository
Waterstones
W.H. Smith
Barnes and Noble

eBook

Amazon U.K.
Amazon U.S.
Erotica Romance E-Books
All Romance E-Books
Bookstrand

*****

MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI worked for many years in book publishing as an editor (including titles by William Golding, Peter Ackroyd, Oliver Stone, Michael Moorcock, Peter Ustinov, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Paul Ableman, Sophie Grigson, Marc Behm, Cornell Woolrich, etc...) and launched the Murder One Bookshop, which he owned and ran for over 20 years. He now writes, edits and translates full-time in London.

*****

COMMENT TO WIN!

Courtesy of Xcite Books, three lucky winners can get their hands on a copy of Ekaterina and the Night in their choice of paperback or digital format. (International entries welcome!)

Simply leave a comment on this post to win. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the tour, because the more comments you make, the more chance you have of winning! Go here to see the blog tour schedule.

PLEASE leave your email address in the body of the comment. No email address = no entry. Winners will be drawn and contacted on the week ending 11th November 2011.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Werewolf Wednesday

Are you an author with a current work-in-progress? WIP Wednesday will resume as normal next week. Would you like to tease your work on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please e-mail Erin O'Riordan: erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Hopping by from the Coffin Hop? See Monday's giveaway post here.

Werewolf #1: Alcide Herveaux
As Portrayed By: Joe Manganiello (thanks to Hunk du Jour)
The book: Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 6)



Werewolf #2: Jacob Black
As Portrayed By: Taylor Lautner
The Book: New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)

A little werewolf music:



Werewolf #3: Tyler Lockwood
As Portrayed By: Michael Trevino
The Book: The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark Reunion



Werewolf #4: Remus Lupin
As Portrayed By: David Thewlis
The Book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Werewolf #5: Werewolf Flanders
As Portrayed By: Harry Shearer
The Book: The Simpsons Beyond Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family...Still Continued

Monday, October 24, 2011

Welcome, Coffin Hoppers, to the Pagan Spirits trick-or-treat giveaway!

Whether you're stopping by from the Coffin Hop, a regular reader or just passing through, you're invited to take part in the trick-or-treat giveaway. I encourage you to visit as many of the 96 participating horror/weird fiction authors as you would like; you're sure to find a new favorite.

My guest on Thursday the 27th, Maxim Jakubowski, will also be hosting a separate giveaway which you are welcome to enter.

Please allow me to introduce myself: I'm Erin O'Riordan, and I write paranormal erotic romance. My major work in the genre is the Pagan Spirits series, a contemporary novel series about two sister-witches. Books 1 and 2, Beltane
and Midsummer Night are available now. I'm currently editing Book 3. I've also written many paranormal short stories featuring vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, a super-powered supervillain and her invisible nemesis, Medusa, Valkyries and dark faeries.



The Giveaway: Trick or treat! In honor of the Coffin Hop, I'm giving away an exclusive CreateSpace paperback version The Erotica Anthology, not on sale to the public yet. (You can get the e-book version for $.99 on Smashwords.) This is a proof copy, and you and I will have the only two proof copies in existence. The collection contains the dark faery tale "Herbert," the witchy short story on which the novel Beltane is based and a preview of the novel. Along with these supernatural stories, the collection contains four more erotic tales.


To enter the giveaway contest, you must be over 18 years old. There are two steps to the entry: 1)Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect or by e-mail and 2)Leave a comment on this post, providing an e-mail in your comment so you can be contacted if you win. Tell us what kind of spooky/supernatural fiction you like to read or write, give us a great Halloween costume idea...the comment can be whatever you want. The winner will be chosen at random. Both U.S. and international submissions will be accepted.

But wait, there's more! Not only will I send you the exclusive signed proof of the book, I'll also make you a mix CD of my favorite eerie/weird/Halloween-themed music - the music I like to listen to while I write. I promise it will not suck.

Can't get enough Halloween?

Here are some other Pagan Spirits posts you might like:

Celtic Languages 101: Welsh for Halloween



Love Spells from the Witch of Umbria

Vampires and Kitsune, Japan's fox demons

When Sex Meets Evil

Pride, Prejudice, Zombies and Hidden Lusts

Top 10 Supernatural Series

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

Voodoo Horror: Prey of the Scavenger

Review of "Oliver's Good Night Kiss"

Death's Excellent Vacation


This is an affiliate link:

Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky Places by Daniel Hardie. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
Enter a world of the unknown and the paranormal, where strange ghostly and haunting happenings take place all over the world. Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky places is a book that explores ghostly realms in haunted houses, haunted hotels, historic castles and cursed graveyards. Read this book... if you dare.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

E-books vs. Paper Books: The Conflict (guest post)


With the ongoing trend of using the internet and digital objects right now, e-books or electronic books also became widely popular. Electronic books, as what its name say, are books that could be viewed through electronic devices. However, as these e-books became popular, the traditional paper copy books, which we could see, feel and touch, start to slowly fade away and lose its power. But if we compare these two kinds of book, which do you think is much better?

E-books vs. Paper book: what’s the difference?

Both e-books and traditional printed books have pros and cons. As mentioned earlier, e-books became widely popular because of the trend in using electronic devices and internet. E-books provide venue for readers to read efficiently as most e-books offer zoom functions, letter resizing and etc. Moreover, e-books are also more portable than paper books because with just one device, you can store a big number of e-books. In addition to this, e-books are more environment-friendly as compared to traditional paper printed books. As it is electronic, there is no need to use hundreds of trees to produce the material needed to print the books.

On the other hand, traditional paper printed books are also easily portable. Although it’s quite a task for you to bring a heavy load, paper printed books are much accessible since there is no battery or electricity needed to read a single chapter. It has been said that it is a much better traveling companion compared to e-books. Moreover, it has also been shown that traditional paper printed books do not cause significant eye strain compared to e-books. This is perhaps because of the time spent using the device which may eventually lead to a strain to the muscles of the eye.

Which is which?

One of the best things to do in dealing with this conflict is to simply mix and match. The use of e-books and paper printed books could vary depending on the area you want to read a book and your personal preference, of course. For example, if you will go to a place where finding a source for electricity is difficult, then it is much better to bring a paper printed book. And, if you go to an area where bringing books is quite a tedious task, then e-books are a much better option.

Then again, you should remember that it doesn’t really matter whether it is a paper printed book or an e-book you are reading. As long as you are able to sit down, take a break and read a few lines from your favorite book, whichever medium you use will be a helpful tool.

About the guest blogger: Jenny Parker is a writer who enjoys covering topics for an expat community blog that provides internet phone carda and Swiss calling cards for international travelers. Take an additional 10% off with coupon code "acc10".

Photo: John Blyberg

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Vampirish 2nd Reading on Edin Road Radio

I made my second aural appearance on BlogTalk Radio's Edin Road Radio show last night. I read an excerpt from "Oakley Falls," the short story I contributed to Vamps: Lesbian Stories With Teeth (edited by Lorna Hinson, Torquere Press). The tale concerns a vampire stripper who finds herself locked in the vault at her place of employment, The Third Eye Gentlemen's Club. I then had a brief chat about writing with host Jesse V. Coffey. But don't worry if you missed the live broadcast - you can replay the episode on the Edin Road website, and soon Jesse will also produce a podcast. She'll also create a link I'll be able to embed as an audio player, so I'll add that to this post as soon as it becomes available. I salute Jesse for her amazing audio skills.

I read an excerpt from Eminent Domain on July 5, 2011.

Elizabeth Black, the originator of Man Candy Tuesday and inspiration for "The Older Dudes I'd Most Like to See Lewd," contributed the short story "Neighbors" to Vamps.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday with Deanna Proach

Are you an author with a current work-in-progress? Would you like to tease your work on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please e-mail Erin O'Riordan: erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

From To Be Maria by Deanna Proach, Chapter 4: Anya sits herself down comfortably in her usual spot--the old, chipped desk in the third row at the front of the classroom. She ignores the noisy chatter of her peers and tries to memorize the notes from last English class. Every week Mrs. Cummings gives the class a surprise quiz and Anya is never prepared. But this time, she is determined to ace it.

Just as she delves into the information, her thought process is rudely interrupted when someone snatches the notes off her desk.

"Hey, what the..." Anya stops short when she sees Carly glare down at her, her blue eyes like sharp-edged daggers.

"If I were you, I would not finish that statement," Carly says.

Normally Anya is not bothered by Carly's snide remarks, but this time she is flabbergasted. "What are you talking about, Carly? Can you please give me back my notes?"

With little effort, Carly tears the loose-leaf pages right down the middle, then throws them on the ground. Everyone in the classroom bursts into laughter--everyone except for Maria.

"You better stay away from me, loser, or I am going to make your life a living hell!" With an indignant flip of her long hair, Carly walks brusquely over to her seat at the back of the room, leaving a stunned Anya sitting alone.

The cheers of "Wow, Carly. Way to go, Carly," and the slapping of high fives cuts deep into Anya's soul. So much for acing that quiz, and so much for English today! On impulse, she grabs her books. She nearly runs right into her teacher as she dashes out of the room.

"Anya, what's wrong? Where are you going?" Mrs. Cummings says, her face contorted with worry.

For one brief second, Anya looks at her teacher, but she is completely at a loss of words, unable to express her anguish. So, she just turns her body, then runs down the empty hallway. A few times her teacher calls after her, but Anya ignores her. She flings open the women's washroom, then rushes over to the nearest stall. Anya slams the stall door shut, locks it, then sinks to the floor below. She buries her head in her hands. Tears sting her eyes.

Maria set Carly up for that! That bitch! I should have never talked to her. Now I'm the laughing puppet of my class once again. What the hell was I thinking? I will never be able to live this one down, and worse, what will Mr. Hawthorne think of me when he finds out about this? She can no longer hold back her tears. They flow relentlessly down her cheeks. I hate myself and I hate my life! I just wish for once, I could be anyone but me.


www.deannaproach.com
http://desstories.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Love Spells, Courtesy of the Witch of Umbria

In a 1999 letter from the editor in Ms. Magazine, Maggie Ann Gillespie wrote, "I want to be a witch! Correction - I want to confirm the witch in me." She goes on to write that "when thousands upon thousands of women were labeled witches and terrorized, tortured, and murdered in all manner of barbarous ways, I probably would have been among them - and so would you." Her argument is that many of the simple freedoms we take for granted, from enjoying sex to speaking up, could have us (men and women alike) labelled as witches in the burning times.

That's probably true. As Nigel Cawthorne painstakingly explains in his history volume Witch Hunt: History of a Persecution (Chartwell Books, 2004), people as young as two were murdered in the European hysteria over witchcraft and heresy in numbers it's difficult to pinpoint or even imagine. The book is a veritable catalog of horrors and not for the weak of stomach.

Yet there's also a fanciful side to the book, in the descriptions of the powers attributed to witches. My favorite chapter is Chapter 8, "The Witch of Umbria." The Italian region of Umbria has been rather infamous in the news lately; it's the location of Perugia, where the American Amanda Knox was arrested, convicted and acquitted of the horrendous murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. In the 15th century, Umbria was infamous for another trial, the trial of Matteuchia di Francesco, accused of being a witch.


According to witness testimony of that time, di Francesco was skilled with love charms. Some of her remedies included these.

Charm for getting a lover to pay you attention (at least for a few days)- give him/her an egg, mixed with her herb called Costa cavallina.

To remedy an uncaring lover - Make a wax figure of him/her and wrap it in a thread spun by a virgin. Place it under his/her bed. Reportedly, this worked for an Italian woman who was having an affair with a local priest. If no virgin-spun thread is available, you may wrap some of your hair in cloth and place this under the lover's bed.

To regain the favor of a lover with a wandering eye - Burn some of your hair and feed him/her the ashes.

To recover a cheating spouse - Capture a swallow, and for a few days feed it nothing but sugar. Kill the bird, burn it, and mix the ashes with wine and some water in which you've washed your feet.

To make someone fall in love with you - Capture a pair of swallows. Kill the birds, burn them, and stir the ashes into a drink. Give it to your intended lover.

To separate a pair of lovers if you desire one of them for yourself - bathe facing backwards with your knees bent. Take your bath water and throw it in the path of the couple as they pass. Soon, they will hate one another and separate.

To prevent two people from having sex - Take a holy candle and light it. Carry it to the junction of three roads, where one of the lovers is certain to pass, and there bend the candle. Keep the bent candle in a safe place, and as long as no one disturbs it, the lover who passed by the crossroads will be unable to have sex.

To undo the curse your lover's lover has placed on you - look under your bed/pillow for a witch's charm, then burn it.

Perhaps because the Church feared the witch's power to aid and abet adultery, di Francesco was sentenced harshly. She was paraded through the town of Todi on the back of a donkey with her hands tied and a paper hat (apparently signifying shame in those days) on her head. There she was publicly burned alive. At least the trial of Amanda Knox had a less gruesome ending.

Got witch fiction?
Beltane by Erin O'Riordan
Midsummer Night: Pagan Spirits, Book Two (Volume 2) by Erin O'Riordan

Photo:
Démons et Merveilles by Edward Reginald Frampton (1872-1923). Public domain in the U.S.

This is an affiliate link:

Witchcraft Second Degree. Wiccan Themed. by Black Witch S. $29.97 from Smashwords.com
Witchcraft - A 2nd Year in the Craft. This course will introduce you to the basics of Witchcraft with a Wiccan fusion. Step-by-step beginner exercises are included to help you start your journey safely and to show you exactly what to do in order to achieve your full magical potential. Plus, you can apply for a Certification of Completion for 2nd Degree Witchcraft.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Flower Child ~ Guest Post by Sheila Deeth

There was a picture of a guardian angel at my elementary school. A little boy was kneeling, hands together, eyes closed, at his bedside and the angel stood behind. When I was small I’d sometimes open my eyes when praying and glance over my shoulder. If I positioned myself just right, with the mirrored wardrobe in front, that should make it easier to see my angel. But no matter how I tried, I never succeeded. That’s okay, I told myself; he doesn’t want to be seen. He just wants to know I believe in him. So I believed, as surely and deeply as I believed in Santa and the tooth fairy.

Actually, I had a bit of a problem with fairies. Angels were part of religion you see, so I knew they were real, and I knew they were big, like grown-ups. I wasn’t entirely sure about the whole wings thing since Abraham mistook his angels for people in the desert. Friends said real angels keep their wings under their robes, but wings are big. Other friends suggested they could make the wings invisible, but that didn’t explain how they got their robes on over them. Fairies, meanwhile, were uniformly small and always wore wings, at least till I was older. But somehow both had pride of place at the top of a Christmas tree.

My family solved the Christmas tree problem by putting an ornament—kind of like a minaret—up there instead. But there was still the fact that I was as likely to call the herald announcing Christ’s birth a fairy as I was an angel. And my teachers didn’t like it!

There are lots and lots and lots of angels in the Bible. Some have names, like Michael, who fights for his people Israel. Others are cherubim (not to be confused with stone cherubs in church, I was told) and seraphim, six-winged, two-winged, un-winged, alone and in armies, all sorts of them. I learned how we mortals are privy to mysteries that angels long to see—yet angels seem privy to everything and sent out as messengers. It’s very confusing.

And then there are the Nephilim, who might be angels or giants; and fallen angels who might be demons perhaps… It’s no wonder there are so many angels wandering through literature now. Meanwhile, the little girl who wanted to see her guardian angel grew up. I think he must have found me a difficult assignment.

When I started writing Flower Child, our Bible study group had just begun a book on angels. So there it was, in black and white, people don’t turn into angels when they die. Not even children? Not even unborn children? Of course, my real question wasn’t really about the angels so much as the kids. When does the unborn child become a person? When does he get his soul? And what is a soul?


I guess I might as well ask when angel get their wings, but Flower Child grew and my little unborn Angela made her own path, guarded by angels, loved by her mother, and longing to find out just who, and what she was.

About Flower Child: When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious relationship between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel,” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Where to find Flower Child:
On the publisher’s website: http://gypsyshadow.com/SheilaDeeth.html#Flower
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Flower-Child-ebook/dp/B005PGMT4O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317398482&sr=8-1
on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91467

About the author: Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and sons, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers' group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Sheila describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Her short stories, book reviews and articles can be found in VoiceCatcher 4, Murder on the Wind, Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.

Find her on her website: http://www.sheiladeeth.com
or find her books at: http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com

Erin O'Riordan's review of Sheila's Refracted

Sunday, October 16, 2011

THEDAILYTERROR ~ Guest Post by Jake Bannerman


ANXIETY THRUST DEPRAVE DEAD MURDER RAPE SMUT DISEASE ROBBERY FILTH CHILDREN HOMELESS GUNSHOT POLICE AMBULANCE There is an exercise going on, pay attention, there will be a test at the end. VIOLENCE SATAN KNIFE ACCIDENT HOSPITAL ABANDONED DEPRESSION FIRE FLOOD TORNADO BLIZZARD ECONOMY WELFARE STARVING MALNOURISHED CUT OFF LAY OFF FIRED EXCUSED SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY Is anyone catching on yet? GUTTER ABORTION SACRILEGE UNHOLY BLACK JEW NAZI BOMBING SOLDIERS Anybody, anyone? Just raise your hand if you think you have it. WARLORD FAMINE CANCER AIDS FLU ANTHRAX NUCLEAR WARFARE HEAVY METAL SUICIDE HAZING MASSIVE LOSS JOBLESS CRASH BURN GHETTO BROKEN POOR KNIFE GASHED DESPICABLE...any clue?

Words I found in today’s newspaper. That’s right; in one day, the daily newspaper makes not only my work but any horror master's work seem pretty fucking lame, huh? I try and explain this in just about every interview or post I can - LISTEN CLOSELY. Mankind is horror, just read the papers...

Do I need to spend an hour writing a thousand word guest post about this? NO WAY! I am sure that there is a newspaper close by where you are sat now, and what makes that even more interesting is that we are ADDICTED!!!

We, you, them - the guy on the train next to you, the school teacher, the nurse, the redhead you want to fuck on the sixth floor…We want the news! We revel in how fucking sick we have become. Are you ready for this? We are the main characters in the most frightening book of all time!

What I want from you, dear reader, is an argument, a solid foundation of reasoning of why I am wrong. I bet you will try and fail, but humor me. Send your argument to alysbonde@gmail.com and you might just win yourself a copy of my newest book ‘The Pitchfork Diaries’ where I take the newspapers to school and fill your brain with horror you have never even thought of!

****

The Pitchfork Diaries is a collection of short stories and prose unlike anything you have ever read before. Even the darkest and most violent imaginings of your mind cannot come close to matching the horrors contained within.

J.S. Bannerman, a new name in the horror genre, has skillfully woven a collection of tales that will inescapably work their way into your psyche, take up residence and relentlessly haunt you. Prepare yourself to be confronted by words that will threaten to shake the foundation of everything you thought you knew; no truth is too uncomfortable, no thought too gruesome to share.

All are invited to read The Pitchfork Diaries. Many will never be the same.

Currently Available on Smashwords.com
ISBN 978-1-4657-1708-5

Early Praise for The Pitchfork Diaries:

“It’s refreshing to find a multifaceted storyteller that can tie together a multitude of different genres. J.S. Bannerman leaves no stone unturned and attacks any subject that his mind lays purchase to. He weaves a brilliant story each and every time that pulls you in and keeps you engaged.”

Julianne Snow
Author of Days with the Undead

****

Born and raised in the church, J.S. Bannerman has taken the dangerous stance to question events that have been spoon fed to him as the truth since his childhood. He continually pushes boundaries as a purveyor of terror and often strives to find that disquietude that exists inside each one of us.

He is a nomad, calling no one place home; choosing the life of a traveler while on the mission of writing the Family of Dog series. As a result you may find him in your town, writing at your local pub, crafting tales of horror so terrifyingly deprave and heartbreakingly cruel that you would never believe that they come from a mind as normal as his. Just beware, because within each tale is a message; it’s just up to you to figure out what it means.


This is an affiliate link:

Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky Places by Daniel Hardie. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
Enter a world of the unknown and the paranormal, where strange ghostly and haunting happenings take place all over the world. Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky places is a book that explores ghostly realms in haunted houses, haunted hotels, historic castles and cursed graveyards. Read this book... if you dare.

Friday, October 14, 2011

West Coast Werewolf Cookie Review (Sanction Chronicles)

Well we all need to have fun sometimes so as a part of The Sanction Chronicles Young Adult Series I decided to do some food reviews. Not me as an author but as a werewolf character just for the Sanction Blog.

Best decision EVER. So far so good. Everything is delicious. For this round I went with cookies. Food trucks and sweets these next few weeks. Hard work, right?

Terry Kate


Welcome To Sanction - The Sanction Chronicles - Year One Volume One

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West Coast Werewolf Cookie Review

Well they aren't a restaurant...

Freshly Baked

Gourmet Cookies with Attitude

Okay Readers -

Best part of this review is you can get these guys ANYWHERE - they ship. So no need to be in LA with me. - Freshly-Baked.com

I came across these guys at the Taco Cook Off - where I managed not to eat a single taco, but other yum stuff instead. Like every cookie on the Freshly Baked menu. Over all, very good. If they are there buy them. On the whole moments of greatness but not every one so choose wisely...

So - top to bottom on the favorites.

YOUR MOM - Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip

The chocolate, the texture of oatmeal and the chewyness of coconut that stays with you as you chew makes this one the big winner. A MUST have and a must try. Perhaps one of my favorite Oatmeal Cookies ever, but adding chocolate doesn't hurt.

Kiss my Rosie White... - Strawberry White Chocolate

General Rule: Strawberry flavored items are weaker tasting. Cherry Rules! - Not so here. If this was not hurt your teeth deliciously sweet it would have taken top rank. Even hungry as a wolf I would max out at about 2 while Your Mom, give me 10!

To the Cookie! The flavor is subtle and mouth watering. It hits the tongue with a burst and the white chocolate just smoothes the whole thing out to complete the experience. I am not a white chocolate fan so that this one is so high on the list tells you just how good it is.

Demolicious - Chocolate Cherry

As stated rule above, Cherry Rules as does this cookie. Really fabulous and a repeater. The cherry flavor infuses the whole cookie perfectly complimenting the dark chocolate. The mix is pretty flawless. Not really anything more to say. Yum...

Mexican Arm Twister - Chocolate Chip with a Twist

If you like KICK this is not the one for you. This is your niece kicking you in the back of the leg. If you want it hot like a donkey kick to the groin look elsewhere. This is a mild, subtle flavor mix maybe why they say twist. Too subtle? Maybe. Can anyone give it a try? Yep. There is nothing to offend the palate, just a warm tingle in the after taste.

Nutty Bavarian Love Biscuit - Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel

A solid PB cookie, mild on the PB and with a nice move in adding the pretzels. The salty - peanut butter mix of ingredients was nice. Unfortunately the chocolate seemed to dominate the pairing. If PB is your thing though, give it a go.

Monkey Nut Blast - Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip

Sad Monkeys. I didn't taste the banana either. Say banana, I think BANANA. It was not the dominate flavor I expected based on the description. More of a chocolate chip with nuts and a light banana air about it.

The Foamy Homey - Root Beer Float

This cookie goes to show you how AMAZINGLY talented this baker is. First you taste vanilla, count down, one-two-three and the flavor changes like magic in your mouth. Root Beer! Add to that the unbelievable, no idea how he does it, tingle it leaves on your tongue and this is a masterpiece. I didn't care for it, but I fully appreciate it.

Anger Management - Peppermint Chocolate Chip

I have been really hungry before - I mean hungry, BUT I have never been tempted to put chocolate chips in toothpaste and eat it.

In closing: Am I chasing them down like a werewolf after a tasty rabbit? No, but I know other eaters who do. A lot of highlights here and good stuff. Make them into a sandwich with a little ice cream and you would only want them more. - More at Freshly-Baked.com

- West Coast Werewolf