Friday, March 30, 2012

K.D. Grace, the Pagan Spirits Interview



How did you get started writing in this genre?

I got started writing erotica when I submitted a short piece to the now defunct UK magazine, Scarlet, which ran a section called ‘Cliterature’ at the time. I had two pieces published with them, then went on to publish with Black Lace and have never looked back. I got into paranormal probably because of my love for mythology and for the wonderful cross-over novels of authors like Diana Gabaldon and Nora Roberts, in which the paranormal bleeds into an otherwise normal world completely oblivious to the dangerous otherness that threatens destruction while at the same time promises heightened lust. And of course, I had my love affair with Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton.

Basically I love the idea that dangerous, exciting otherness can bleed into our world unbeknownst to the average person. It’s like imaginary friends coming to life. It makes all the ‘what ifs’ more intense and adds a new dimension to the road to HEA without taking it completely out of the everyday world. I like the fact that the two intersect, and when they do, dangerous, amazing, exciting things happen.

What made you decide to write Lakeland Heatwave: Body Temperature and Rising?

It’s a serious bit of magic that Body Temperature and Rising got written at all really. The story evolved out of a personal experience of being caught in the mist in a storm while walking the fells in the Lake District. That experience inspired the opening scene of a novel that was my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project three years ago. I knew it would be an erotic novel, and I knew it would be paranormal, neither of which I’d tried my hand at before. After I finished it, it lay untouched for two more years. In the meantime, Xcite Books published my first two contemporary erotic romances, The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop. One day, on a lark, I dusted off the original manuscript that was then called Love Spells and decided it had some serious potential. On a lark, I sent Xcite the reworked first three chapters and a synopsis of what would become BTR, and within less than an hour, they responded with a yes!


I was a little taken aback by Xcite’s enthusiasm, and for the first time ever, I found myself with writer’s block. Usually once I set myself a task to write it just happens. The writing flows, the story takes shape, and that’s that. Not this time! I was really beginning to worry that I might not be able to do it after all. Finally, after a long hard walk, I realized the reason it wasn’t coming together for me was that the story was too big for one novel. It needed to be a trilogy. I proposed the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy to Xcite, they said yes, and from there the book and the changes needed to make it publishable practically exploded onto the page, with the path to the rest of the trilogy clear ahead. I’m still amazed how it all came together as it has, and I have to say it has been an absolute blast to write.

If Hollywood made this book into a movie, who would you imagine playing Anderson, Marie, Tim and Tara?

People always ask that, and it’s one of the hardest questions for me because I never write my characters with anyone in mind. Since the second novel, Riding the Ether, is essentially Anderson’s story, I spent a long walk a couple of weeks ago thinking about who would play him in a film, while trying to get my head around Anderson’s darkness and his lust. Anderson is powerful, dangerous and yet the epitome of old world charm and sophistication. The closest I could come was Hugh Jackman, who seems to embody both in the rolls he’s played. Tim might be Sam Worthington. Marie could possibly be Olivia Wilde. Tara is hard. Tara is really hard, but at the moment I’m leaning toward Anne Hathaway. The last book, Elemental Fire, is ultimately Tara’s tale, so maybe I’ll change my mind by then. Hard to say.



Do you believe that sex magic is real?

I believe that sex is the only kind of magic, actually, and certainly the only kind of magic we all have access to. That’s why I write erotica. That being said, it was the perfect jumping-off place for my foray into paranormal erotica. Sex is the true creative force in the world, so it makes sense that the place where two people become one, the only place where we can actually get inside another person’s skin, the place where life begins with la petite mort would be the place where the magic is most powerful. That’s the premise for all three novels and the reason I chose to write about sex magic.

What project are you working on right now?

I’m working on the second and third novels of the trilogy right now. I’ve just finished the first draft of Riding the Ether, book two, and will go right into Elemental Fire. It’s easier for me to write the two books together because the events in the books lend themselves to it, and because I actually have the time to do it that way. I think the writing of the two, almost as one, will make for a much more powerful climax to the trilogy. It’ll also make the whole experience psychologically easier on me if I can just stay in the story.

Would you say your work has been influenced by any other erotica writers? Do you have a favorite erotica writer?

I actually started writing erotica on a lark before I’d ever read anything by anyone in the genre. It was only after I’d had a few works published that I started seriously reading other writers. I really don’t want to be influenced by anyone else too much because I want my voice to stay as unique as possible. However, I’m a great admirer of Charlotte Stein and Justine Elyot. There are lots I really enjoy, but these two wonderful writers consistently awe me with their work. I admire them deeply.

Do you have a favorite paranormal writer?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a real fan of the paranormal crossover, for lack of a better word. I like the bleed-through into the real world to be subtle and therefore more dangerous because it can lend itself to denial. I love Diana Gabaldon’s mix of historical novel and time travel. I like the way Nora Roberts mixes romance with paranormal. I suppose her mix of witches and magic probably influenced me most. And the Lakeland setting so easily lends itself to witches and ghosts that it was perfect.

Where do you stand on the vampire issue: should they sparkle, not sparkle, or no opinion?

I’m definitely in the sparkle-free camp.

Other than sex and love, what subject most fascinates you?

I’m an avid long-distance walker. I love nature and being outside. My husband and I did the Wainwright Coast-to-Coast walk across England last summer, and have another stonking good walk planned for this summer. I walk most of my stories, and if I ever get stuck in the plot, a good walk solves the problem and offers the best inspiration for new tales. I’m a firm believer that a good walk will solve almost anything.

And if the walking doesn’t, vegetable gardening will. We grow our own vegetables, and getting my hands in the earth, then eating what I’ve grown myself, well, that’s a different kind of magic. I also find veg gardening inspirational. I have a reputation for writing garden porn.

*****

American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON, and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allows needy ghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.

DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.

More info & buy links: http://kdgrace.co.uk/books/lakeland-heatwave-book-i/

*****

K D Grace was born with a writing obsession. It got worse once she actually learned HOW to write. There's no treatment for it. It's progressive and chronic and quite often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. She might actually be concerned if it wasn't so damned much fun most of the time.

K D's erotic romance novels, The Initiation of Ms Holly, The Pet Shop and Lakeland Heatwave Book 1: Body Temperature and Rising are published by Xcite Books and are available from all good paperback and eBook retailers.

Her erotica has been published with Xcite Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, Sweetmeats Press and Scarlet Magazine.

Find out more about K D Grace on her website, http://kdgrace.co.uk. She's also on Facebook and Twitter.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dangerous Lee: The Pagan Spirits Interview

Please welcome Dangerous Lee, author/blogger/HIV educator/actress and generally creative woman. Lee is the author of Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down, and her short story "'Til Death Do Us Part" appeared in Zane's Succulent: Chocolate Flava 2 anthology.


PS: If you could sum up your book, Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down, in one sentence, it would be...?

Dangerous Lee: Six erotic tales of safe sex.

PS: What's the secret to making safe sex "sexy" in your writing?

Dangerous Lee: Making sure that the erotic aspects are very erotic.

PS: How did you first become involved in HIV prevention education?

Dangerous Lee: I became passionate about HIV prevention and education when I learned that African-Americans have some of the highest infection rates in the United States.

PS: What inspired you to start Book Bizarre in Flint, Michigan?

Dangerous Lee: There are many self-published authors in Flint, Michigan and we all need recognition.




PS: Ever have any encounters with Flint's famous Michael Moore?

Dangerous Lee: No, not personally.

PS: What qualities are you looking for in a "Danger Baby?"

Dangerous Lee: Someone that is very outspoken, honest, and helpful.

PS: Who's your favorite celebrity to blog about?

Dangerous Lee: I don't have a favorite celebrity to blog about, but if there is some new or exciting news to share about Michael Jackson, I am happy to blog about that.



PS: If you had to pick one favorite Michael Jackson song, it would be...?

Dangerous Lee: I can't pick one song, but I can pick one CD; Dangerous!

Dangerous Lee
Author - Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down
Read First Chapter Now - http://bit.ly/1Vnf6D
Facebook - facebook.com/DangerousLee.Biz
Twitter - @DangerousLee
Please support The Dangerous Lee Experiment!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last WIP Wednesday of March 2012

Guest authors needed - all genres! Are you an author? Would you like to share a little bit about a current work in progress on a future WIP Wednesday? Then I invite you to be my guest. Please e-mail Erin O'Riordan (erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net).

Next week's WIP Wednesday guest will be Rue Allyn. I'll also be a guest on Rue's blog that day, talking about "The Spell You Cast," and why witches are an appropriate subject for Easter time.



I continue to work on my submission for Melange Books' Having My Baby anthology. The deadline was supposed to be April 1, but now it looks as if it's been moved (again) to July 1. Or is that an April Fools Day joke?

(Warning: clip contains disgusting animated depiction of spoiled milk.)



In this totally historically accurate clip, the Pagan Simpsons are worshiping Baal with sacrifices. Baal is not the name of any particular god, but a Near Eastern word that means "lord." In The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker connects Baal to the Irish god Bel, the sun-god who presided over Beltane. Some Baals are forms of the Annually Dying and Returning Vegetation God wedded to the mother-goddess.

The feminine form of Baal is Baalit, but the goddess is often called some form of the word Asherah. After all, she is the primary being, the mother of life, and he is simply her consort - as necessary, perhaps, but not as widely honored.

Fans of Stargate: SG-1 probably think of the South African actor Cliff Simon when they think of Baal:


The former swimmer and model may have played an imperious, despicable villain pretending to be a god, but he looked hawt doing it. To paraphrase the Jay-Z/Kanye West collaboration "[Expletive Deleted] in Paris," he Baals so hard motherfuckas tryin'a' find him. Speaking of which, there's a clever and utterly literate parody called "Bitches in Bookshops:"



Yep, she said, "I read so hard I'm J.K. Rowling." Speaking of J.K. Rowling-related Kanye West parodies:

http://pinterest.com/pin/46936021086654041/

Referring, of course, to West's takeover of Taylor Swift's Video Music Awards acceptance speech (see HERE).

That's my week in writing - what are YOU working on?

Cliff Simon photo: Suzan Marie, Creative Commons license

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Vampire Diaries ~ The Return: Shadow Souls

I read the previous book in this series, The Return: Nightfall, in September 2011. Shadow Souls is the sixth book in L.J. Smith's series, and it picks up with Stefan stuck in prison in the Dark Dimension.


Elena Gilbert, once the shallow, self-centered, stereotypical popular blonde teen, has now become a vampire, died as a vampire and come back from the dead, becoming a selfless and noble creature worthy of the true-hearted Stefan in the process. She's determined to save Stefan, even if it means sacrificing her own life. She intends to enter the Dark Dimension with Damon as her guide and Matt to support her. However, Matt gets turned around and ends up back in Fells Church, while Meredith and Bonnie decide to go with Elena. In the Dark Dimension, the three women must pretend to be Damon's slaves, since free humans are not allowed in the land of demons. L.J. Smith locates the entrance to the Dark Dimension in Sedona, Arizona.

In Nightfall, the female kitsune Misao gave Elena clues to the whereabouts of the two halves of the fox key, needed to release Stefan from his prison. When Elena saves the life of a slave woman, the woman turns out to be a key ally who gives Elena the access she needs to find the first half of the key. To find the second half, Elena must infiltrate the home of a dangerous goddess, Bloddeuwedd.

Bloddeuwedd is a figure from Welsh mythology. The goddess was created out of nine kinds of flowers to be the wife of the hero Lleu Llaw Gyffes (meaning Fair-Haired One with Skillful Hands), whose mother, the goddess Arianrhod (meaning Silver Wheel), had cursed him never to marry an earthly woman. Two magicians then created the unearthly Bloddeuwedd, whose name means "Flower Face."

Bloddeuwedd, the myth goes, did not take kindly to being given away to Lleu. What woman would? While he was away, she spotted a man named Goronwy heading a hunting party, and the two fell in love. She tricked Lleu into revealing the one, very unlikely way he could ever be killed, and then Goronwy attempted to kill him. In some versions, Lleu's life is spared when the magicians turn him into an eagle. For betraying her husband, Bloddeuwedd was transformed into an owl, which the Welsh considered to be the enemy of all the other birds.

(Read more about Bloddeuwedd at Thalia Took's goddess website.)

L.J. Smith's version of the goddess is beautiful, aloof, full of hatred and vengeful. Her immediate reaction to meeting Elena and Damon is to try to kill them. Will Damon and Elena live long enough to rescue Stefan? What evil tricks will the nasty kitsune pull this time? And what the hell is happening to Damon at the end?!


The books I have not yet read are:

The Return: Midnight
The Hunters: Phantom
The Hunters: Moonsong
The Hunters: Destiny Rising
(release date: October 2012)

However, the Hunters trilogy was not written by Smith. These books have her name on them, but were ghostwritten. There are also six volumes of Stefan's Diaries, based on the TV show rather than the book series, none of which were written by Smith:

Origins
Bloodlust
The Craving
The Ripper
The Asylum
The Compelled


So, do I read on past Midnight? The Vampire Diaries without Smith is a bit like Harry Potter without J.K. Rowling, isn't it? Or do TVD fans have good things to say about the ghostwritten books?







I Love Stefan T-Shirt by NarfWearDesigns

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Blue Monday #5 ~ Blue Book Value, Part One

These beautiful book covers all have something in common: the color blue. They all come from my Books Worth Reading board on Pinterest.

We start with, quite possibly, my favorite book ever.



Then, one of my favorite books when I was in middle school - and still enjoyable to read when one is an adult.



This is among my favorite works of contemporary literature.



This is a long book, but one I found myself unable to put down. A feminist, Neo-Pagan retelling of Arthurian legend? Yes, please!



Finally, the first blue-covered book that I ever fell in love with.




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Sunday, March 25, 2012

SOC Sunday: Is there anything an erotica writer can't write about?

It's Sunday, which means another prompt from AllThingsFadra. This is a 5-minute free-write, so set a timer, publish your free write on your blog and link up there.


Today’s (Optional) Writing Prompt: What are some things you wish you could blog about but can’t?

I write in a variety of genres, but my primary published genre is erotica. Erotica writers - at least when we're hiding behind our keyboards - are not exactly known for being timid with words. Of course I can write about sex - it's the bulk of my reputation on the Internet. I'm well-paid to write humorous and intelligent sex pieces for SexIs magazine, where I've tackled everything from the world's great spring fertility festivals to the alleged relationship between women's genitals and fishy smells. Surely there's nothing I can't write about?

Two things come to mind, though: politics and a certain other type of blogs. You may imagine that a woman who calls her blog Pagan Spirits and has a rather Unitarian view of the world might be rather liberal, but I don't like to step on any toes. I know how to agree to disagree amiably. I'll support human rights causes, but I rarely make a political statement.

Okay, a couple of times I slipped and called Rick Santorum "Boy Palin" on Facebook.

There are a certain type of blogs I just can't relate to and don't particularly care for, unrelated to politics. But I can't say that a risk offending potential readers - you know, the ones who aren't already chased off by the adult content warning and the lingerie ads. Let's just say that if you mostly blog about your desire to organize various closets within your home, we probably won't have a lot in common.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Other Favourite Supernatural Creature ~ Guest Post by Julianne Snow

Now some of you might wonder why I’m making a stop on the divine Erin O’Riordan’s blog but we all have different likes and dislikes. I am a fan of Erin’s and while my main loves are horror and science fiction, I still enjoy a juicy erotic tale. I’m sure the same can be said for the lovers of erotica. Just to show you all that my interest in supernatural creatures is diverse, I’ve decided to write about -

My Other Favourite Supernatural Creature

I think it’s safe to assume that everyone knows that I love Zombies. I read about them, I watch them on television and in movies and I even write about them. My first book Days with the Undead: Book One is currently available at all the major self-publishing outlets. But the subject of this post is not Zombie related. What I want to talk to you about is my other favourite supernatural creature: shape shifters.


I have had a fascination with supernatural creatures as far back as I can remember. There is something dangerous and secretive about the things that we don’t readily understand. Shape shifters are among the most compelling of those for me. You’d never know that you were looking at one unless it let you in on its secret. The ability to transform into someone else is a power that many just may covet. Imagine if you could be someone else for a few days… The things that you could do, the things that you could find out, and the experiences that you’d be able to live. The list is endless.

One of my favourite books containing shape shifting is The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum. That was likely my first introduction to quite a phenomenon; when it was discovered that Princess Ozma really is Tip and that Tip has been searching for herself all along, I was just in awe. Even in C.S. Lewis’ tales of Narnia, shape shifting has a place or two where it transforms a character. Additional books containing shape shifters are Shiver (Maggie Stiefvater), Nightshade (Andrea Creamer) along with Stray (Rachel Vincent) and Moon Called (Patricia Briggs). The books detailing the exploits of shape shifters are plentiful and if they interest you, you will have no trouble finding a multitude of different series.

In the movies and television, shape shifting has been utilized to entrance and to terrify us. The Doctor is probably one of the most notable shape shifters in popular science fiction. If you don’t know who I’m talking about I suggest you pick up some Dr. Who at some point and get acquainted; you have no idea what you are missing. The Thing held audiences mesmerized by the horror of just what it could do to a small population in such a short period of time. See what I mean about the ability to disguise oneself? In some cases, that ability could definitely work against you. You can find shape shifters in other films such as Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the X-Men franchise, Lady Hawke and Cat People and that just to name a few.

Shape shifting might not be the most terrifying of all of the supernatural creatures but the potential for terror is still present. Given the fact that they can take on so many different forms, you cannot rule out the fact that they may exist. There is always a little truth hidden deep in folklore. The next time you take a seat on the bus or open your mouth wide for the dentist, think a little on the idea of shape shifters and try not to let your imagination take root in fear.

Days with the Undead: Book One Synopsis:

It’s a journal of survival.

Five people set out to escape the Undead who have risen too close to home. Join the emotional and physical struggle as they began on the third day after the awakening of Brooks VanReit, as they are recorded from the point of view of Julie, a former pathologist and part-time survivalist.

Each entry is geared toward helping those who want to help themselves and maybe give a few that don’t a swift kick in the ass. Join our group of survivors on their journey through these Days with the Undead.

Excerpt

Day 4:

For those of you out there that have no idea what is going on or those dealing with minimal information, I’m going to fill you in with what we know so far. Ben managed to survive being at the epicenter when Patient Zero transformed from being medically dead to Undead. Forgive me if the language I use is technical or scientific, being a pathologist, it’s how my brain is programmed to work and right now it’s on autopilot.

Four days ago my world - our world - went to hell and I don’t think it’s coming back. From what I’ve been able to gather from Ben, Brooks VanReit, whom I will refer to as Patient Zero from this point, came into the Emergency Room of St. Michael’s Hospital with practically non-existent vital signs. The staff assigned to treat him tried to resuscitate him but their efforts failed. Sometime between 7:30AM and 7:45AM, he was pronounced dead and as quickly as he died, he came back to life. From what I understand, the doctors and nurses first thought they were witnessing a miracle. They immediately found out how wrong they were.

Ben had tucked himself away in the nearby nurse’s station while completing a few charts before going home and he said he had a fairly good view of what transpired. His description of the carnage left in the wake of the reawakening is brutal.


Date Released - February 29th, 2012
ISBN: 1468007998
ISBN-13: 978-1468007992

About the Author - Julianne Snow

It was while watching Romero's Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of 6 that solidified Julianne’s respect of the Undead. Since that day, she has been preparing herself for the (inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse. While classically trained in all of the ways to defend herself, she took up writing in order to process the desire she now covets; to bestow a second and final death upon the Undead.


As the only girl growing up in a family with four children in the Canadian countryside, Julianne needed some form of escape. Her choice was the imaginations of others which only fostered the vibrancy of her own. The horror and forensic/crime thriller genres top her list of favourites, but she can never turn down a good science fiction, fantasy or mystery read.


Julianne appears in the anthology Women of the Living Dead with a story entitled "The Living Dead at Penderghast Manor." Look for her short stories in future anthologies. Days with the Undead: Book One is her first full-length book, the basis of which can be found in her popular web serial of the same name.


Days With the Undead: Book One - Available in print and digital formats.

Purchase Links - Print:

CreateSpace
Amazon

Purchase Links - Digital:
Smashwords
Amazon US
Amazon UK


This is an affiliate link:

Till Zombies Do Us Part by Celeste Ayers. $0.99 from Smashwords.com
Noah and Amy are two teens in love. There is however one problem; the world as they know it was turned into nothing but a pile of chaos and zombies. As they battle for survival they’ll embark on a journey into the unknown while facing new trials that will put both their love for each other and their humanity to the ultimate test. Just how far will they be willing to go?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kindle Devices – Enjoy the Newest Technology

A guest post by Nir Zilberman

If you enjoy reading magazines and books, than this post is just for you. I would like to share with you here how having a new Kindle device can make your entire reading experience more enjoyable and a lot more convenient than you're used to today.

Learn about the 3 top Kindle devices, their features and benefits and decide which one suits you the most as I will introduce to you here the Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire and the Kindle 3G reader. So, let's understand how a Kindle reader or tablet can make our life easier.

Kindle 3G

This is the most popular device by Amazon to this day and with all its amazing features, we can understand why. The Kindle 3G is able to store up to 3,500 actual books and magazines so you won't have to carry a single book with you when you wish to read outdoors. Any book you have at home or see on the book shelves at the store can be stored in your new, small device. The reader comes with a battery that can work for a whole month without the need to charge it, it is equipped with a Wi-Fi and free 3G so that means you can even download more new books and magazines straight to it in only 60 seconds from anywhere in the world, you can read in bright sunlight as there is no glare effect at all and the best part – It is thin, small and very light as it weighs only 8.7 ounces and that is less than one paperback.




Kindle Touch

Right after the amazing and huge success of the Kindle 3G wireless reader, Amazon has decided to launch the Kindle Touch device which quickly became a best seller by itself. The Kindle Touch comes with a touch screen as opposed to the Kindle 3G that comes with a small keyboard, it can store up to 3,000 books and magazines, its battery can work for two whole months before you'll need to charge it again and with its Wi-Fi and free 3G you can download any book and magazine you wish no matter where you are in 60 seconds only. Thousands of books in one small device that weighs only 7.5 ounces, even less than the Kindle 3G reader!




Kindle Fire

The latest technology is stored in this amazing device and you can enjoy it now. The Kindle Fire is the newest tablet by Amazon and it gives Apple's iPad 2 a real fight because it has a lot of incredible features for half the price of the iPad 2 device. The Kindle Fire features a 7-inch screen that delivers 16 million colors to watch movies, read books and play games with amazing graphics. It has a very powerful processor, comes with a long lasting battery, you can read millions of books and magazines reach-in-color no matter where you are straight from the tablet, watch over 100,000 movies and TV Shows, play your favorite games as well as the newest games, listen to music In high quality and so much more.



These are the top Kindle devices today and with technology so advanced now, you don't need to look for a book store anymore, no need to wait for out-of-stock books, no need to carry books with you. Now, read any book you want just by downloading it to your new device from anywhere in the world in only one minute and simply make your reading experience so much more fun and convenient than ever before.

Have thousands of books and magazines with you at any given moment just by turning the Kindle on and if you decide the Kindle Fire is the one that suits you the most, you'll be able to enjoy books, movies, games, music and more no matter where you are and what time it is. Enjoy the newest technology and make your life easier and more fun.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Giveaway and Review ~ The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart


Ilchi Lee is a Korean-American meditation retreat leader, teacher of the Dahn school of yoga and author. In The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart, Lee provides a guide to making the most of a trip to his adopted homeland in the Arizona hills on a true spiritual level. Many people enjoy the natural beauty and artistic inspiration of this place, but not everyone approaches the land with the mindfulness that give way to greater understanding of the self and of the world.

Sedona is world-renowned for its spiritual atmosphere. Many parts of the Arizona desert are sacred to the First Nations people (the Apache and the Yavapai are the original inhabitants of the land), including Sedona and some of its surrounding areas. Its energy is concentrated in what people generally refer to as vortexes, which Lee explains in these terms:

"Because the earth is also an organic life form, it has an energy system similar to that of the human body. Vortexes perform a similar role for the earth as chakras do in the human body. Power is concentrated in the vortexes, and the energy of the earth pours out in swirling spirals or the energy of heaven comes to them, forming a whirling spiral. Just as the energy of our bodies is not visible to the naked eye, vortex energy is also invisible. However, just as you can feel energy if you focus your mind, it's possible to experience vortex energy through our various senses."

By coincidence, the word "Sedona" sounds like the Korean words "se do na," which means "new enlightenment will emerge." ("Do" is often spelled as "Tao" in English.)


(Cathedral Rock - public domain image by Ken Thomas)

Even if you're not planning a trip to Sedona in the near future, you can use this book as a guide to meditation in communion with various aspects of nature. This is a beautiful book, lushly illustrated with photos of Sedona and the surrounding areas at different times of day and at different times of the year. Ilchi Lee is an engaging teacher whose storytelling style blends his personal experience (he's had quite a life!) with universal meaning and higher truth. This is a book that speaks straight to the heart.

Best Life Media, the publisher of The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart by Ilchi Lee, has generously offered to ship a free paperback copy of the book to one lucky winner. I'll choose the winner at random (using Random.org) from commenters who leave an e-mail address before midnight Eastern time on Sunday, March 25th.

If you have a Google account and I can find your e-mail address by clicking on your name, there's no need for you to leave your e-mail address in the comment. Otherwise, I suggest this format: name AT Internetcompany DOT com.

Disclosure: I received this book at no cost from the publisher's representative in exchange for this review, which represents my own honest opinion.

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How to Meditate for Beginners: Tips and Trick Your Mind for Meditation by AssussA. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
Meditation aims to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of consciousness and inner calm. It may come as a surprise to know that you can meditate anywhere and at any time, allowing you to access a feeling of tranquility and peace no matter what is happening to her around.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday with Mary Hart Perry

Guest authors needed - all genres! Are you an author? Would you like to share a little bit about a current work in progress on a future WIP Wednesday? Then I invite you to be my guest. Please e-mail Erin O'Riordan (erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net).

Mary Hart Perry, The Wild Princess

My work-in-progress is the first of a series of romantic Victorian thrillers inspired by my love of cherished stories like Jane Eyre and Downton Abbey. I’m particularly drawn to women who have stepped out of their comfort zone in search of love, who also make a difference in the world.


Princess Louise (Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter) had a reputation for being the “wild child” of the family. She insisted upon mixing socially with commoners and being trained in London as a professional artist at a time when girls were denied the same education as boys. So, I wondered, what is a princess to do when she longs to break out of Buckingham Palace and follow her dream—but her mother refuses her and then marries her off to a man who can’t return her love?

It’s not just Louise’s future at stake in the novel. London is a dangerous place in the 1870’s. Desperate men have vowed to free Ireland from the Crown, even if it takes blowing up half of London, and the royal family with it. How will Louise protect those she loves? Needless to say, I’m having such fun with this story!


The release date for The Wild Princess is July 31, but you can pre-order now from Amazon.



Erin O'Riordan is currently reading:


James the Cat approved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Diva Jefferson and her Historical Romance 'To Love an Irishman'

She is left with an offer she cannot refuse...

Upon his death in 1823, English nobleman, Lord Peyton leaves his daughter Lady Aveline with two choices—stay single and inherit only a small farm in Ireland, where she might just be able to eke out a living, or get married and live in luxury, inheriting all his wealth and property. Fiercely independent, Aveline heads for Ireland only to run afoul of her father’s farm manager, the devastatingly handsome Ciaran O’'Devlin. Alone in a strange country, Aveline yearns for love and friendship, but Ciaran offers only criticism and disdain. Confused and angered by strange visions and her growing attraction to Ciaran, Aveline is determined to make the farm prosper —despite the insufferable Irishman.


He has a secret he cannot reveal...

Ciaran mistrusts Aveline’s intentions and refuses to admit that a willful, English woman now owns the farm that should have been his. Although he insists Aveline should go back to England, he cannot deny their budding passion. Yet, he knows—even if she doesn’t—that nothing will come of it. Not only can’t a poor Irishman marry an English noblewoman, but when Aveline learns of his past, she’ll want nothing more to do with him. Ciaran has always known that each decision carries a consequence, but it’s only when he stands to lose Aveline that he realizes what a heavy price his past decisions may have.


Aveline turned as the last line echoed back in a man’s voice. Her heart fluttered. “I thought you made it very clear we should not see or talk to each other—” She halted as the air around her became thicker. She felt a silent connection to the Irishman.

Twilight settled in around them.

“So I did.” He chuckled, looking toward the ground. “Something about you strikes odd to me though, cailín.”

She wondered why he thought she was odd. “Whatever could that be, Mr. O’Devlin, for surely I have not done anything to upset you.”

She knew she was more headstrong than most women, but obstinacy does not make a person odd. If anything, he could be labeled as odd, too. A stubborn man who devotes his life to a farm? Bah!

A frown creased his brow. “Nay.”

His eyes met hers and she felt the glow of blue fire on her face. “In truth, you have done far more than I ever expected from you.”

Well, overcoming an Irishman’s expectations is very difficult indeed. “Did you really think, Mr. O’Devlin, I would run and hide from you? I am not a coward, if that is what you are saying.”

His eyes widened. “Right, you are not a coward.” His soft words washed through her. “Ya singing voice is quite brilliant.”

“I’m glad the fact is now established.” Maybe he gave a compliment to weaken her. “It is only a voice after all. Certainly not something to get eager about—”

He pushed her doubts into the dirt. “Nonsense! You highly underestimate...”

Every word he spoke made her weak at the knees, so she ignored him and turned toward the wheelbarrow instead. “I should finish my duties before it is time to wash for supper. The days go by so fast as of late. It was only this morning when I was helping the brothers feed the animals—” She bent to place the last item in the wheelbarrow, lost her balance and fell against the handles. The cart tipped, losing its contents. She fell backward into his embrace.

Setting her upright, Mr. O’ Devlin pulled her around, gently moved the hair off her face, and kissed her full on the mouth.



Excerpt from To Love An Irishman written by Diva Jefferson. Now available from Black Opal Books! Please feel free to contact the author on her website: www.divajefferson.com.


Facebook: www.facebook.com/divajefferson
Twitter: www.twitter.com/diva_jefferson

Monday, March 19, 2012

For St. Marcus Day, Blue Monday is Red Monday

Twihards will tell you that today, March 19th, is the St. Marcus Day Festival in Volterra, Italy. The Stephenie Meyer-inspired custom is to wear red on St. Marcus Day.

Normally on Mondays I share stuff from my "I've Got the Blues" board, but with today being St. Marcus Day, I hereby declare Blue Monday to be Red Monday. Enjoy!

What to drink.




What to wear.




What to wear if you're Leah Clearwater.




It goes with these shoes.

Source: punk.com via Rebecca on Pinterest




Of course, if you're going to do the whole Red Riding Hood thing, you're going to need the woods.



And finally, a change of clothes for the after party.




If you love fashion, then I suggest you check out the awesome couture deals at MYHABIT.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SOC Sunday: Home Is Where I Want to Be


Here are the rules…

*Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
*Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
*Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
*Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
*Link up your post at AllThingsFadra.
*Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Today’s (Optional) Writing Prompt: How do you feel about where you live?

This may sound like a cliche, but it's really true: When I got back from Europe and went through customs in New York, I thought, "I'm home."

But I don't live in New York.

Another flight took me from JFK airport to Chicago's O'Hare. As soon as I saw the Chicago skyline, I thought, "Now I'm really home."




But I don't live in Chicago, either.

Home is a moving target. The USA is my home, the Midwest is my home, my home state is my home, and so is my county, my city, my neighborhood.

Source: gather.com via Erin on Pinterest




I love where I live (even if I don't like to share publicly my home city and state. Chicago-ish area, suffice it to say). My 99-year-old house is on a curve of the river, so we have river views from just about every room. If we're quiet enough, we can hear the waterfall.

(The above photo was taken in the park in which my hubby and I got married. The rock garden was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.)

I heard on the local news this morning that the city where I was born is celebrating a sad anniversary today. Ten years ago, a man who'd been fired from a factory went on a shooting rampage in the factory, killing several people before ultimately killing himself. My dad was a police sergeant at the time. Sadly, there had been a similar shooting in a nearby town earlier in that same year. The officers in that earlier shooting had waiting before entering, but my dad and his colleagues decided they wouldn't let that happen again. My dad was the actual first one in the building. He started to triage the wounded even though he didn't know if the shooter was still in the building or not. (He wasn't. He'd started to lead the county police on a high speed chase.) The decision to go in and start performing CPR on the wounded and clear the building for EMS to come in saved several lives.

I thought then, and I still think, that what my dad and the other officers did that day is the very definition of bravery. I'm not always brave, but I like to think there's some of that DNA in me somewhere, and if I ever need it, I hope it will rise to the surface.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

La Fhéile Pádraig Shona Daoibh! or Happy St. Patrick's Day


Who is St. Patrick?

This may come as a shock, but St. Patrick wasn’t born in Ireland. He was born in Scotland around the year 387, in a colony of the Roman empire. Both of his parents were Roman citizens. At 14, he was kidnapped by a raiding party, taken to Ireland and forced to work as a shepherd. His masters were Druids, practitioners of the ancient Celtic religion. Christianity had already been introduced to Ireland, but it hadn’t really caught on yet.

Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was about 20, when he escaped and returned to his family. However, he felt a spiritual calling to return to Ireland as a missionary. He died there in about 461, after 40 years of preaching and performing miracles. He’s said to have used the shamrock to teach the idea of the Trinity (the idea of God as being the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all in one).

Pagan lore claims that “Saint Patrick” is a myth, a Christianized reference to another Trinity: the Morrigan, the Irish triple goddess composed of maiden Brigit, mother Babd and death-aspect Macha. (Macha is the bean-sidhe, the woman of the fairy-mound, better known as the banshee.) Patrick was the mythical young warrior who was annually wedded to Brigit, then sacrificed to the Morrigan, only to rise again the following year to have the whole cycle start over. Brigit was Christianized as St. Brigid of Kildare, a nun who founded Ireland’s first convent near the place where the priestesses of Brigid once tended a sacred fire.


(The Morrigan in an image by André Koehne)

St. Patrick’s Day in America

In Ireland, the saint’s day is observed as a religious holiday, with charity shows, parades and church services. In the U.S., community celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day originated in Boston, which boasts a large number of Irish-Americans. It’s New York City, though, that holds the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade; the tradition began in 1762.

No one knows exactly who poured the first green beer, but Chicago has dyed its river green every year since 1962. They use enough biodegradable, vegetable-based dye to keep the green color visible for one day. Favorite activities on St. Patrick’s Day include cooking Irish foods like colcannon, listening to Irish music, and learning Gaeilge words.

The Irish Language

Gaeilge, Anglicized as “Gaelic,” refers to a group of closely related languages native to Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man (where the language is called Manx). Other Celtic languages, including Welsh and Cornish, are more distantly related. Some Gaeilge phrases:

La Fhéile Pádraig Shona Daoibh - Happy St. Patrick’s Day
Dia dhuir - God be with you (used as a greeting)
Eireann go braugh - Ireland forever
Go raibh mile maith agat! - Thank you very much!
Slainte! - Cheers! (literally, “Health!”)
Ta cupla focail Gaeilge agam - I know a couple of Irish words

An Irish drink, according to The Simpsons


Carve out a hole in a potato large enough to hold a shot glass. Place shot glass in potato. Pour Bushmill’s whiskey into shot glass. Float potato in pint glass of Guinness stout. Spit in drink and serve.

Some Irish People I Love

1. William Butler Yeats

Yes, his father was English, but his mother was Irish, and he was born in County Dublin.

"He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven"

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."



2. Dolores O'Riordan. No relation (that I know of - we could be distant cousins). This Limerick-born rocker chick may have made her fame in '90s fronting The Cranberries, but to this day she's considered one of the 10 richest women in Ireland. You go, girl!


3. Bram Stoker

What vampire lover doesn't appreciate the first real master of the vampire novel? I've read Abraham Stoker's best-known novel, originally published in 1897, twice. He was born in Clontarf (a district of northern Dublin).

4. Gabriel Byrne

Ellen Barkin's baby daddy is one of the Irish dudes I'd most like to see lewd. All I have to say to impress you is "He played Keaton in The Usual Suspects," but he's done so much more than that. His two most Celtic-inspired films are Into the West and Excalibur. He studied archaeology before becoming an actor and speaks Spanish fluently. Byrne was born in Dublin.



5. Liam Neeson

Also appearing in Excalibur, Neeson is from Ballymena, Northern Ireland (like my Irish ancestors, who came from Derry). All I have to say to impress you is "He played the title role in Schindler's List." Well, he played Oskar Schindler, not the list, but you get the idea. He's done so many great things, from the voice of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia films to that fight with Christian Bale in Batman Begins to his guest appearance as a Catholic priest on The Simpsons.

I always imagine Neeson and Byrne as having something of a friendly rivalry because Byrne, as Lord Byron, kissed Neeson's wife Natasha Richardson (as Mary Shelley) in Gothic.

Resources:

“Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.” The Holiday Spot. http://www.theholidayspot.com/patrick/celebration.htm

“Irish Phrases.” Ireland Information. http://www.ireland-information.com/irishphrases.htm

“St. Patrick.” Catholic Online. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89

“The Gaelic Language.” Gateway to Scotland. http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/home/scotland/gaelic.html

Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.

Portions of this post originally appeared at theholidaydiva.blogspot.com, a blog that apparently no longer exists.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review ~ Dead Is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez


This book marks the beginning of the Jessica Walsh era - Jessica takes over as heroine of the Dead Is series from Daisy Giordano. Psychic Daisy and her sisters are the Walsh's next door neighbors, and Daisy's boyfriend Ryan is the best friend of Jessica's older brother Sean. Jessica doesn't have psychic powers, but she does have a strange new tattoo that just appears without the use of needles. She learns she's a virago, a supernatural warrior-woman destined to guard her hometown of Nightshade, California.

I wondered if I would like this series as much with Jessica in charge as I did with Daisy. I did, pretty much. The ending was a little rushed, but I imagine some of the confusion will be further cleared up in the next volume, Dead Is a Killer Tune.

While battling an outbreak of a strange infection and an even stranger ant farm, Jessica develops a crush on the new lead singer of local band Side Effects May Vary: her fellow Nightshade High student Dominic Gray. But Dominic seems to have a split personality when it comes to Jessica; sometimes he seems into her, and sometimes he's all over Selena Silvertongue. What's up with Dominic? Will Jessica survive the danger - and Flo's virago workouts - long enough to find out?


Dead Is a Killer Tune is due out September 4, 2012.

When I read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, the Maroon 5 song "She Will Be Loved" ("Beauty queen of only 18...") kept getting stuck in my head. I couldn't read this book without repeatedly singing "Love is a Battlefied" by Pat Benatar.



Fortunately, I like this song. It reminds me of when I was a little girl in the '80s. In She's a Rebel, Gillian G. Gaar wrote, "Female performers rarely experienced the attacks that groups like N.W.A., 2 Live Crew, or Judas Priest did, though their work was scrutinized by organizations like the PMRC, who, in analyzing sexism on MTV, gave Pat Benatar's 'Love Is a Battlefield' video a negative rating, citing: 'one performer fights with her ornery parents then leaves home to become a hooker.'"

I purchased Dead Is a Battlefield at my brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble and was not compensated for this review in any way.

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