31 December 2007

Do You Believe in Luck??

Growing up, my family had a New Years' tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage to start the new year off with good luck. This was a Midwestern tradition that when I moved down south was told...."No! You're supposed to eat black-eyed peas." Well, all right. So I did. My luck has never been stellar, but last year I ate neither and probably had the worst year of my life.

While starting off the new year with a healthy dose of fiber might be good luck for your colon, I've heard of other traditions that don't involve ingesting your luck. I have a friend who is from England and she said their tradition (might be regional in the UK) was to see who came in the door first after midnight. It's called First Foot. That person receives a kiss and present from the homeowner and is supposed to bring luck to the entire household for that year.

I have to say after this past year, I'm willing to try hopping down Broadway on one foot if it'll help me. So, tonight I'm making the corned beef. I have to work tomorrow, so I'll take black-eyed peas to work with me. That way, I've flanked the holiday in good luck meals to increase my chances of wiping out crappy luck from 2007.

While contemplating these dinners of prosperity, I wondered exactly where the traditions came from. I haven't found any answers to date, but wondered what traditions you and your family have for ensuring good luck through the coming year.

Wishing you and yours a safe, happy and luck-filled New Year.


30 December 2007

New Year's Eve, Eve

All is still quiet on the western, eastern, northen and southern front while the last of the holidays moves along and we prepare to greet a new year. Those who make resolutions are scrambling to put everything in order and get ready to spend the next six weeks--I mean the next year--doing better and being better than they were the year before. Good luck with all your endeavors, but I have a suggestion for this time around.

Rather than resolutions, make decisions and follow them up with concrete plans. Don't outline what you hope to do but what you're going to do and how you're going to do it. And in the midst of all that determinaton and accomplishment remember to mix the magical and the mundane and go for broke!

Learn a new language. Then take the experience and build a new world, even if noone ever reads the result but you.
Take up a musical instrument. Then compose a song of a lost civilization.
Look into a craft. Then create an artifact from an alien world.

While you're caught up in what you feed your belly, make sure to feed your spirit and your imagination.
Resolve to play more and laugh more and do something that makes you afraid.
Get out and walk more, it's a great thing, but remember to look for Faerie Folk while you're out there, because they'll be looking for you.
When you finally get yourself organized, make sure you leave space for things with no purpose aside from looking pretty and smelling nice and inspiring you to places you can't get to any other way.

Do all the things that we all do at the beginning of a new year, and then do all the things we should do.

Happy New Year

Happy New You

And Happiness...Just for the sake of Happiness.

New Year's Ramble Done


21 December 2007

Winter Celebrations

Aahh, Christmas. A time of merriment and joy.


In keeping with my mythology theme, I decided to do a little research on the rites of our mythic forefathers during the winter solstice celebrations.

Blood and demons everywhere.

The Scandinavians celebrate St Lucy’s Day around Dec 13. Sounds lovely. Blonde girls carrying candles nestled in a wreath in their crown of braids. St Lucia helped to hide Christians and needed her hands free, so she figured out a way to carry the light on her head. But St Lucy’s Day coincides with a terrifying mid-winter coming of the female demon Lussi. Lussi came down the chimney to take away naughty children and lazy people who didn’t do their work.

In Aegean Greece, there was the Lenaia, or the Festival of the Wild Women. A man would be let loose in the forest wearing the disguise of bull to represent Dionysus, then Dionysus’ female worshippers, the raving Maenads, would be let loose upon him and tear him to shreds as a sacrifice. Yay Grrl Power. In later years, a goat replaced the human sacrifice.

The Saami, indigenous to Finland and the most northern parts of Scandinavia celebrated the Beiwe Festival. Beiwe was the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity (talk about your rampant Seasonal Affected Disorder – also, I bet there were lots of September babies.) Her followers sacrificed white female animals and used the meat, bones and sinew to decorate a bed for her. They also covered the bedknobs with butter for her to eat as she traveled on her way to bring Spring back to the land.

But no discussion of death in winter is complete without mentioning the Midvinterblót in Nordic folk religion.

Totally aside, have you noticed how many of these fun little rituals are Norse in origin? This is what happens when you don’t see the sun for four months out of the year. Anyway, back on topic.

Every year at the solstice, men would bring cattle and horses to be slaughtered for the blót – a sacrifice to Odin, Niord and Freyr. Smoke from the holy fire and blood were offered to the gods and sprinkled on the participants, then ale was offered. Odin’s goblet was for power and victory, Niord’s for peace and Freyr’s for good harvest. Finally, one goblet was emptied in memory of dead friends.

ETA: The picture above is Carl Larsson's Midvinterblót. It hangs as a mural at the Swedish National Museum. You'll notice that there is a man waiting to be sacrificed. Every nine years at the Temple of Uppsala, nine males of every species, including humans, were sacrificed as part of the celebration.

Fun party.

Well, ok. Not all celebrations were filled with blood, but enough to make us stop and consider the darkness in which people lived and their acceptance of the cycle of life and seasons.

As we take a sip of eggnog this holy season, let us lift a cup and remember those who have sacrificed for us as we celebrate a moment of light and hope while the earth sleeps.

Happy Holidays!

18 December 2007

I fell hard for Sudden Fall by Kally Jo Surbeck

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season. Mine was made a little brighter by this book!

Sudden Fall
Book 1: Yadderawal Balance Series

Kally Jo Surbeck
Available Print/Ebook at Samhain Publishing
Rating: 5 of 5 Bells(in honor of the season)

Hafwyen is the Princess of Yadderwal. However, royal blood is as much a curse as it is a blessing because she has to meet and bond with the mate of her soul before the end of her father's reign or her entire world will perish.

No pressure, right? Don't fret, though, because she's found him, if only in her dreams.

Hafwyen's not the ordinary type of princess kept stuffed away in an ivory tower waiting for her prince to come for her. Well, she is, but she escapes by learning how to go into dreams, or the Myst using a herbal potion that's just shy of being herectical. However, when she finally wakes up and figures out the man of her dreams might be closer to reality than she ever thought possible, it's almost too late.

Yestin has been waiting for Hafwyen to figure out he's real. He can't help her because his hands are tied by the gods. Unfortunately just when she meets an intriguing stranger who can tell her all about him, a dangerous enemy strikes at the very heart of the kingdom. Will she believe in time to save herself and Yadderwall?

Sudden Fall is filled with love, lore magic, dangerously complex court intrigue, and a legend that has a life of its own. The author has created a world that contains characters so vivid I found myself captured from the first page. I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened to Wyen and Yestin. Now I'm hooked and ready to be reeled in by the next installment in the series. If books where legend, lore and love collide is something you love, then do yourself a favor and get a copy of Yadderwal today!


Samhain New Releases -- Paranormal Holiday Snacks!

At Samhain today:

“Love Me, Still” by Maya Banks
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-709-0
Length: Short Story
Price: 2.50
Genre: Holiday, Romance, Paranormal
Publication Date: December 18, 2007

Forgiveness is the most difficult thing to give but the most cherished thing to receive. A story from The Perfect Gift

Beloved mate to two wolves, Heather lived an idyllic life until hunters destroyed the pack’s peaceful existence. Believing their mate betrayed them and was responsible for their father’s death, Cael and Riyu cut Heather from their lives. But when they realize their terrible mistake, can they ever gain her forgiveness and win back her love?


“Miracle at Midnight” by Stacia Wolf
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-710-4
Length: Short Story
Price: 2.50
Publication Date: December 18, 2007
Cover art by Scott Carpenter

Can a heart wrapped in stone discover the true meaning of love? A story from The Perfect Gift

In 1507 France, Comtesse Amara de la Cortese wasn’t a very nice person. She was a hard-hearted ruler who thought nothing of imprisoning beggars and ordering their children sold. Enter Saint Nicholas, whose quest is to protect the young. As punishment, he turned Amara into a statue—a prison of stone to match her heart of stone.

But Saint Nicholas believes in redemption, so every 50 years he frees her for 48 hours and gives her one of ten chances to answer one apparently simple question: What is the true meaning of love?

Ten chances. One question. Sounds simple. But Amara, whose heart is stunted by a loveless past, has failed each time. Now, on her very last shot at lifting the curse, she finds herself in present-day Manhattan. She meets six-year-old Samantha, who totally believes her fantastic story, and her doctor dad, Nick, who totally doesn’t.

Despite the deadline hanging over her head, Amara is determined to enjoy her last taste of freedom. With Nick and Sami, she explores New York’s unique style of Christmas. She also finds herself falling in love.

Then, in a flash, time runs out in a way none of them imagined. The pressure’s on for Amara to find the answer in her newly melted heart—or return forever to her prison of stone.


Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

16 December 2007

The Gothic Holiday Spirit

“How can you write that paranormal stuff during the holidays?”

A most interesting question; not because writing paranormal stories during the holidays is any great feat, but because the question itself over looks the fact that the holidays are full of paranormal stories. The enduring Christmas tales we all grew up with are full of ghosts, elves, angels, and magic unlike any stories to be told outside of Halloween. The Yuletide spirit is built upon the hushed magic of a world in winter slumber; and it has birthed tales we tell again and again, in forms that change but with messages that remain the same.

At what other time of year can you see what the world would be like if you were never born? When else can your entire take on life change due to seeing the happiness of your past and the loneliness of your future? What other season can see a department store Santa bestow the belief in magic and miracles to a place as sophisticated and jaded as New York City? It is a paranormal paradise full of possibility that calls for an opening of the imagination as well as an opening of the heart.

Sure, my on holiday cheer might have a few more vampires than most. My angels are sexy and hot rather than merely benign and helpful. And if my elves are making toys, they’re toys of a decidedly adult nature, but in the end it all comes out the same. My winter wonderland is full of magic and paranormal goings on that transform how you feel about the world and your place in it.

What more can you ask for?

So I say that if this holiday season your reindeer happen to shape-shift, that’s okay. If the immortal elf bearing gifts didn’t come from a chimney but fell out of an enchanted book and looks smokin’ hot, that’s perfectly legitimate. If your ghost-of-lovers past takes a more intimate and pleasure oriented approach to redemption of your hero or heroine, that’s all in the spirit of things.
It’s all about the ordinary becoming extraordinary beneath a blanket of the clean, yuletide snows, and not everyone’s extraordinary need be the same.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I’m off to deal with a herd of shape-shifting reindeer in need of a sleigh mistress.

Happy Holidays to all.


15 December 2007

December's Samhellion now available!

The December issue of The Samhellion newsletter is now available!

Click here to read a wide variety of interesting articles and short fiction by some of Samhain Publishing's brightest and best.

This month's theme is, of course, the holidays. Check out the article on Yule traditions and lore, co-written by me and Gia Dawn. Enjoy!

This will probably be my last post until 2008. I hope you all have a peaceful holiday season.

Nollaig chridheil huibh!

13 December 2007

13 Books that should be on you Christmas gift list

We're down to the wire with Christmas - only 11 shopping days left! My gift to you - 13 books you can put on your buying list. There is something here for everyone that loves paranormal reading, from Young Adult to sizzling hot romance. Some are print books, some are ebooks - really, something for everyone!

1 - Beautiful Monster by Joely Skye - M/M romance. Josh Mackay is hired to bring in Kiran Brunner, a Minder with the psychic ability to manipulate and kill. But Kir has been abused by the agency that wants him back and he’ll do anything to escape.

2 - Blood Moon by Rose Marie Wolf - Werewolf hunter Simon Conner is so close to achieving his goal—or so he thinks. Little does he know that the werewolf he left for dead has awakened to avenge himself and the disappearance of his mate.

3 - Half Moon Rising by Margo Lukas - A bizarre connection between a werewolf and a woman reveals the truth behind a pack’s discarded magic lore.

4 - Monster by Joely Skye - M/M romance. Josh Mackay is hired to bring in Kiran Brunner, a Minder with the psychic ability to manipulate and kill. But Kir has been abused by the agency that wants him back and he’ll do anything to escape.

5 - Not Quite Dead by Sela Carsen - He’s gorgeous, he’s got great manners, he’s got a mission to accomplish. The only drawback? He’s been dead for a hundred years.

6 - Poseidon VII by S. J. Willing - How can the delectable Anis Anamer and her hunkalicious bodyguard save the Poseidon VII colony from destruction when they aren’t even safe from each other?

7 - Reading Between The Lines by Lauren Dane - Celtic language expert Haley O’Brian is thrilled when she gets the chance to translate a scroll written in Ogham, an ancient Celtic text used in magic and divination. While translating the text, she unwittingly frees Conall macCormac’s Fae soul from a millennia-old curse that kept him imprisoned in a human body, lifetime after lifetime.

8 - Sweet Moon Dreams by Rose Marie Wolf - They only wanted a normal life, but never realized normal for their kind meant murder, deception, kidnapping…and hunters.

9 - Lords of the Were by Bianca D'Arc - An ancient evil is stalking the twin alpha rulers of the werefolk and the half-were woman who is destined to be their mate…if she lives long enough.

10 - The Gloaming: Abhainn's Kiss by Carolan Ivey - Hidden away on a misty island off the Irish coast all her life, Abhainn has no idea she is the last of her Faery race—until a troll tries to kill her.

11 - The Vampire... In My Dreams by Tery Lee Wilde - Young Adult. Love bites when a seventeen-year-old vampire and witch tangle.

12 - The Strength of the Wolf by Jorrie Spencer - For longer than she can remember, Veronica has been wolf. Dreams give her a name and the image of a brother. Memory gives her nothing and no one.

13 - The Wolf's Heart by Jenna Leigh - When a nosy reporter reunites with a werewolf in tycoon’s clothing, sparks fly and passions ignite. The burning question is, who’s taming who?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

12 December 2007

New Releases at Samhain This Week

Just in time for the holidays! There's a double stuffed stocking of new romances with speculative elements at http://www.samhainpublishing.com/. Check out:

"Sweeter Than Wine" by Bianca D'Arc
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Red Hots!
ISBN: 1-59998-682-5
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50

An abused woman has the power to unite werefolk, fey and vampire against an evil that would see them all dead—if she can learn to love again.


"The Sword Empire" by Robert Leader
Genre: Fantasy-SciFi
ISBN: 1-59998-190-4
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50

From the exotic mists of Vedic mythology to the harsh and barbaric Gheddan Empire, the Law of the Sword is carried godlessly into the space age. Book 2 of THE FIFTH PLANET


"Tales from Lachmuirghan" Anthology
Genre: Erotica, Fantasy-SciFi
ISBN: 1-59998-842-9
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50
Welcome to Lachmuirghan, where fantasies come true. You may have trouble finding Lachmuirghan on a map. That’s because it exists only in our imaginations. Hidden in this secret valley, Lachmuirghan can be whatever you want it to be.

"Winter's Daughter" by J. C. Wilder
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-843-7
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50
Cover art by Anne Cain

One woman’s struggle to learn the truth turns into one man’s battle to save her life. The Coven, Book I


"Key West Magic" by Ciar Cullen
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-204-8
Length: Category
Price: 4.50

A haunted-to-the-rafters inn. A haunted heart. A sexy Irish ghostbuster must face both before he can love one woman.


Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

A Few Parting Words About Keeping Your Dreams Alive!

Isn't that a cool house in the photo at left? It's my parents new farm house which should be finished by January.

My parents are 70 and 65. At their age most people retire and move to town. (At least that's how it works with the farmers around here.)

...well, my folks have other plans. My father is raising natural beef cattle on this farm place and has no plans to quit anytime soon.

...so at the age when their peers are calling it quits and settling on their duffs in town, my parents are packing it up and moving back to the country. It's "back" to the country because in 1984 my parents had to quit farming and sell their home & farm, move to town, and find jobs in our small town.

Then in 1990, after years of saving and working off-farm, they started renting and feeding cattle at my grandfather's farm (Gramps semi-retired at 80). For the past 17 years they have been driving back and forth keeping their dreams of being back on the farm alive, plus my mother worked herself up from secretary to manager at her difficult job, and they cared for their ailing parents until their deaths.

They've been working their asses off for 24 years to see their dream become reality. TWENTY-FOUR YEARS!

And my parents did it their way. Others told them to just remodel the old (firetrap) house that was on the place. Some told them they were crazy to move out on the farm to deal with hot summers and harsh winters at their age.

I'm jumping for joy. I see hope in what they're doing. I see dreams becoming reality. I'm proud to have their blood running through my veins!

Today is my last post on Beyond the Veil. I'm changing up some things in my life. I'm taking steps to make sure I'm doing what I need to make my dreams come true...dreams about my writing career, but about some personal visions as well.

I'm confident I can make them happen. I hope it doesn't take 24 years...but so be it, if it does. I'm going to follow my parents example:

  • Work Hard
  • Ignore the Negative Nay-sayers
  • Decide Your Own Dream
  • Get Back Up and Keep Going...and going....and going...and going :)
Wishing my fellow writers and our readers the strength to follow your dreams, I bid you good-bye...for awhile anyway :)

~Margo Lukas

HALF MOON RISING, in print at Amazon now.

11 December 2007

Ten Fairy Tale Revisions That Haven't Happened Yet

My upcoming novel, A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, is based on the Grimm's fairy tale "The 12 Dancing Princesses." A majority of times when you stumble across a fairy tale rewrite, the author takes great liberties with the plot, the setting, the characters, the atmosphere, and so on. The tale, in the end, can bear little resemblence to its origins, like the ten billion different versions of Cinderella or the Ugly Duckling.

Less frequently, the tale sticks closer to its fairy tale roots, like Robin McKinley's two versions of Beauty and the Beast or my own SUSANNAH. Both styles of retellings have their charms and challenges. Even the tales we think of as the originals today are merely the versions written down by whatever enterprising soul recorded them. In the romance genre and others, authors love to put their own spins and twists on these folk, fairy and mythological tales because of the classic themes embedded therein.

But enough of the academic approach! Here's a list of fairy tales I figure I ought to twist:

1) Rumplestiltskin. In which Rumpy, the little horny devil, spins more than gold for the queen. No one is surprised when the queen's first child looks a lot more like a dwarf than the jerkwad, materialistic king who only married her for the gold. Queenie then runs away with the hot short man and her kid. The end.

2) How Six Men Got On In The World. I've never tried my hand at any m/m, so why not start with some m/m/m/m/m/m? How Six Men Got It On All Over The World. My randy team of balloonists floats around the world in two years. They missed the eighty day mark because they kept running out of "supplies".

3) Snow White and Rose Red. This story includes a shapeshifting bear who's man enough for both lusty maidens. Toss in a suspense/treasure hunting plot where they race to find the magic jewels against the evil albino gnome (plus some religious imagery and Madonna references), and you have a possible best-seller on your hands.

4) The Three Billy Goats Gruff. In many versions, the goats are brothers, and we all know how popular brothers are in the romance genre. I guess this will have to be three connected books? The problem is, weregoats aren't sexy, even if they are horny, so they might have to be cowboys battling over water rights. Cowboys often adopt a gruff manner, so in the end, it's all good. And we'll call one of them Billy.

5) Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It's not what you think! She's actually an environmentalist fighting with those damn Gruff brothers who want to herd their goats on the land that's supposed to be a bear preserve. Should she be with Billy? Or Wolf? Yeah, yeah, I know, but how can I resist naming one of the Gruff brother "Wolf"? Answer: I can't.

6) Chicken Little. The sky is falling, and this buxom research scientist is the only one who can prove it! This might end up as a disaster movie on TNT, but as long as John Corbitt can be the sherriff/love interest, I'd definitely be willing to help revamp the script.

7) The Fisherman and His Wife. Totally women's fiction. That blasted cheating husband keeps going out "fishing" and coming back with all these presents for his "Queen", no, his "Empress", and finally she figures out what he's been doing. They're guilt gifts. So she baits her trap and catches both fish in it, with the help of a hunky PI who may be the love interest in the next novel of the "Fat Rita: PI" series.

8) The Greek Tycoon and the Virgin Mistress. What, that's not a fairy tale?? But it's been retold so many times, in so many ways! Are you sure? Well, in my version, she's the tycoon, he's the kept man.

9) Rapunzel. She's not a princess, but her extensions are fierce. What nobody realizes is that she's actually a modern-day Medusa, and she's trying to find the one man who *will* turn to stone when her gaze falls upon him. The rest of them, to her dismay, wilt in her presence. Such is the life of a cursed goddess in 21st century America.

10) Pinochio. Lad lit. After his friend Jack gave him those "magic beans", every time smooth-talking Pino tells a lie, his weiner gets a little bigger. At first--since he started out with quite the deficit--this seems like a blessing. However, he soon learns that not all ladies agree that size is the only thing that matters--they'd like a little love, caring and honesty to go with that beanstalk.

Know of any fairy tales you think need to be rewritten? What do you think the third Gruff brother should be named?

Here's a quick list of some already published romance novels based on fairy tales and other myths: http://www.likesbooks.com/fairytale.html

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

08 December 2007

Haunted Links

I'm spending the weekend in a hotel, with my windows overlooking the Leadbetter Golf Academy. The view from my window is all green driving range, and blue pools - and the sounds in my ears are "can we go to the pool yet? How about now? Now? When?"

I'm pretty sure the Omni is much to shiney and new to have anything so atmospheric as a resident ghost. But driving over to the course in the pre-dawn fog this morning, it looked much more like the links of Ireland than our American greens. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a ghostly form rise from the misty vapor and cross my path.

There are a few tales of haunted golf courses in America. Aetna Springs - - is said to be haunted by Dominican monks, murdered by rival Franciscan monks in the 1500's. Then there's Victoria Golf Club in Canada, where there have numerous sightings of Doris Davlin, who was murdered there in 1936.

America isn't alone in it's tales of haunted courses. In Europe we'll find more of the most well known haunted links. Golfers at Church Stretton Golf Club on the edge of the South Shropshire hills often find their balls have vanished when they land near the 13th greens. Some may say there's a more mundane explanation - local birds, perhaps - but I link to think the ancients are entertaining themselves on their long watch.

Perhaps the most famous golf course in the world, St. Andrews has hosted many a top tier golf tournament. Tiger Woods won the British Open there in 2005. If I ever make it over to the course, I'll be looking forward to taking the St. Andrews Ghost Tour. Many a suspected witch lost their lives on the rocky cliffs, thrown over to the waves pounding 70 feet below. Those unlucky enough to sink were declared innocent of the charges - although quite dead none the less. Those who floated of course must have been guilty - and these poor souls were condemed to burning at the stake.

The fog here has long since burned off, and the sun is calling us out to play. I'm sure someday my golfing husband will take me near one of these haunted courses (St. Andrews is way up on my list). When we make it there, I'll be keeping my eyes open for more than flying golf balls. I'll be hoping to get a glimpse of some of the areas most ancient residents to round out my travel experiences.

07 December 2007

The Selkie Legend

My latest release, HEART OF THE SEA, is based on an old myth about shape-shifting seals. The Orkney Isles in particular, lay claim to these stories. The word “seal” in the Orkney dialect is “selkie.”

The theme of the LOVE & LORE anthology is Celtic mythology, and there are Irish roots to my story, but the Heart of the Sea itself, the magical amulet on which the story hinges, goes all the way back to the ancient gods of the Northland.

It’s believed that the stories of the seal-people came from a source further north. In the north of Scandinavia, live a people called the Saami. They practiced the Old Norse ways longer than any of their Norwegian neighbors. The Orkney Isles were on a path the Saami used for trade and settlement and it was a legitimate part of Norway in the 13th century. Place names and dialect put Orkney closer to its Norse roots than its Scottish ones. Gray seals in the east Atlantic travel the same paths now, from the UK and Ireland up around the Orkney Islands, Iceland, Norway, and further.

Selkies are creatures of pure magic and the magic lies in their skin. They’re able to cast off their wondrous pelts and take form as humans. But if the skin is lost or stolen, then they’re stuck in human bodies until the skin is recovered. As soon as they find it again, they snatch up their fur covering and rush back to the sea.

Both selkie men and women are extremely attractive to humans. A common theme is when a human man sneaks off with a selkie woman’s sealskin. She’s trapped on land and has no choice but to marry the man who holds her pelt.

It often ends sadly, though. Many years pass and though she seems happy enough, she still longs for her watery home. It’s frequently her children who, by trying to cheer her up, tell her where the skin is hidden. She takes it back, bids farewell to her children, and returns to the sea, never to be seen again.

Happily, Heart of the Sea both begins and ends with the myth a bit backward. It’s the story of a human woman who turns into a selkie through a family curse and while she’s trapped in the body of a seal, longs for her home on dry land.

There are many retellings of this myth. I recommend Orkneyjar.com’s interesting pages about the heritage of the islands and the Selkie Folk. They have several different stories about Selkies. Another website is A Home for Selkies. They have quite a few poems and songs linked on their site. In addition, The Seal Prince, a children’s book by Sheila MacGill-Callahan is beautifully told and illustrated.

I also highly recommend the film, “The Secret of Roan Inish.” It’s a beautiful story within a story – framed by the Selkie myth.

05 December 2007

Whatta Rush!

Christmas is looming on the horizon waiting to swallow me whole. But even though I'm nowhere near ready for the big bad holiday monster, I'm not scared at all. Nope, I'm not gonna panic because I know that one of those wonderful alpha males I write about will save the day. He'll swing in on a vine made of tinsel wearing nothing but a pair of tastefully worn jeans. He'll come to my rescue and volunteer to do all that last minute shopping. And he'll do it with a sexy smile and a wink. Then, he'll give me an hour long foot massage. Oh yeah baby!

Yeah any minute now, it's gonna happen.

Where in the heck is he?

Okay, reality check. There's really no hyped up hottie coming to rescue me from retail hell. Nobody who'll come sliding in at the last minute bearing bags of toys for all the girls and boys. (Sorry Santa, you don't count) I'm not that lost in my own little fantasy world.

It's just me and my cute, quirky hubby against those who wish to sacrifice us upon the altar of capitilism. We'll arm ourselves with iced coffees knowing that if things get hairy at least we'll be highly caffeinated and can run away really fast. The credit cards will scream for mercy, however, we'll be firm and press onward fighting the good fight until good triumphs over evil once more in the quest for the perfect gifts for the ones we love! Or barring that, whatever's left after everything else has been picked over by the vultures also known as...

The Early Birds!

We don't like them, but we promise ourselves we'll be one of them next year. Yeah, we did say that last year, how'd you know?

Tonight We Shop In HELL.. mart

04 December 2007

New Release -Solarion Heat by Kathleen Scott

For over twenty years the planet of Cimirion has experienced devastating climatic changes that have turned it from a planet of four seasons to one of perpetual winter. The Cimirion High Command has sent an advance team of Runners to the duel-sun planet of Solarion to scout for possible relocation.

Kara Zaire’s talents as a Visionary—a psychic who can hear energy patterns as musical notes— have placed her on the advance team to determine how well Cimirions will adapt to the constant summer heat of Solarion. That task would be accomplished easier if only Team Leader Jonah Cash would quit treating her like an unwanted commodity. But sometimes there is a heat behind his gaze that makes her feel as if he could burn her as sure as any sun.

Jonah Cash has led many missions for the Runners, but none as desperate as that of Solarion. He’s leery of the Visionary’s talent, especially when a strange force field blocks her from reading the planet’s energy. He’s willing to put up with her hocus-pocus talent if it means a successful relocation. He just never expected for the mystic to cause him to see visions of his own and her beauty to heat his blood to the boiling point.


“Quit hugging trees and get your ass moving.”

Kara ground her back teeth together, causing her injured cheek to smart. She picked up her pace. The man had about as much tact as a rampaging glacial bear. “Yes, sir.”
The team stood at the base of a small hill in a semi-circle. They all looked over at her as if she were some loathsome tagalong on their vacation getaway. She’d been on many missions as a visionary, but she’d never come across such clear contempt from those she worked with. Of course they were all hand selected by Cash so most likely were his regular crew. She, being the outsider, had to prove her worth, and so far the planet couldn’t or wouldn’t cooperate with her.

If Cash continued to undermine her legitimacy for being on the team, she’d file a formal complaint with the HC. This mission meant the survival of their people, and having a team leader who thwarted her efforts to find a suitable planet for relocation could not be tolerated on any level.

“We’re going to split up into three two-person teams.” Cash pointed to the northern end of the plains. “Lowe and Dylan. Head north. Christo and Ramsey. East. Visionary, you’re with me.” He adjusted the volume on his earpiece. “Keep in constant radio contact. If you find anything of interest flag it and we’ll investigate at length tomorrow. We meet at the ship before the second sun sets.”

The rest of the team dispersed in their designated directions. Kara watched while Cash pulled out his canteen and took a quick mouthful of water. He swished it around his cheeks before swallowing.

“What have you found so far?” He replaced the canteen in the strap on his belt and rested his hands on his hips as if in preemptive challenge to what her answer might be.

“If I were blindfolded and brought to this planet, I would think it had died a long time ago.”

A deep frown pulled his dark brows into a V. His startling blue eyes were hidden behind a pair of wraparound sunshades that did nothing but reflect Kara’s image back to her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean I can’t hear anything. The only reason I know the suns are shining is because I can feel their heat. But they’re as silent as space itself.”

He let out a string of creative expletives and turned away. “Why didn’t you tell me this before I sent the others off into the plains?”

“Why didn’t you ask for my professional assessment before making that decision, sir?”

He shook his head and picked up the pace. “Doesn’t make much difference, I guess. This is a fool’s errand.”

Reluctantly, Kara had to agree with that assessment. The thought of relocating to a planet she couldn’t hear disturbed her more than she wanted to admit. But one thing was for certain: their civilization could no longer continue to survive on Cimirion.
Worldwide climatic changes had covered the planet in an icy crust in only a few short decades. Scientists couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for the sudden shift in mean temperatures, but all agreed it appeared to be getting worse every season.

Seasons. They’d had nothing but perpetual winter for the past twenty years. Kara could barely remember the springs and summers of her childhood. Looking around her, she wondered what the HC had been thinking to want to take an entire population from a world of arctic blasts and hypothermia to one of perpetual summer and heat stroke.
Kara lengthened her stride as she caught up to Cash. She hung back a few steps just to admire the view. She might not like him as a team leader, but all that arrogance sure came in a tight, hard package. Briefly an image of spreading protective oil over his entire body flooded her mind and brought her up short. Just how long had she been without a man?

The heat had to be getting to her. Normally, the tall, dark and arrogant type didn’t thrill her in the least. However, Cash hid something, she was almost sure of it. In addition to discovering why the planet hadn’t spoken to her yet, she also wanted to uncover some of her sexy and untouchable team leader’s secrets. The prospect of which would be truly fascinating.


03 December 2007

The Retro Psychic

Everything old is new again.

In the past few years we've seen Detroit bring back the muscle car: Chargers, Mustangs and Camaros. VH-1 Classics brought back popular bands from the '80's with their Bands Reunited who have subsequently began to tour together. Auntie Lou keeps slipping back to the 1700s.

Say what?!

Retrocognition (or postcognition) is one of the coolest of psychic experiences in my book. I use the term psychic loosely here, since I've talked to some people who've had retrocognitive experiences, but vow to no known abilities in any psychic direction or channel.

Retrocognition can best be described as an replay of events that superimpose themselves on current ones - or better yet, as a sudden displacement in time where the experiencer stands in a 3-D past. The person has no known connection to these experiences (i.e. deja vue, remembered past). It can include sights, sounds and smells.

For example:

I have a friend whose grandmother lives out on Long Island in a neighborhood once occupied by the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Now, my friend's grandmother is a prudent sort, not given to believing in ghosts, ghoulies and phantoms. However, that didn't stop an entire troop of British soldiers from marching through her house on their way to meet the Continental Army on the field of battle. Of course when they arrived at the end of the driveway they kindly faded away. But according to my friend, these same soldiers have been spotted over the years by most of the neighbors. And before you dismiss the idea entirely - no they aren't Revolutionary War Reenactors as some skeptics have suggested. This isn't to suggest all hauntings are engery impressions left by emotional or stressful events, but a good many of them could very well be.

This isn't the only route to retrocognition. It also takes on the form of total submersion into a different time. When I was a little girl (elementary school) my mother worked odd jobs for the school so she could be home with us in the afternoon and holidays. During school hours she'd clean house, do laundry or begin preparations for the evening meal. My mother is very hard to scare. As a matter of fact I think the only times I've ever seen her scared was in the car driving with my father. Psychic phenomena doesn't make the woman bat an eyelash. One day, I came home from school and mom had an odd tale to tell. She had rounded the corner from the family room to living room with a basket of clothes she brought up from the laundry room in the basement. She stopped in her tracks because the living room she walked into wasn't ours. The light blue walls were brown, the white brick fireplace was now stone, and a fire burned brightly inside though it was early May. She stood there and blinked a few times until the scene eventually faded away. So how did this colonialesque scene superimpose over a 1970's suburban home? There was never any explanation for the occurance, which is fine with me. I think knowing more about it would ruin the mystique for me.

There have also been reported cases of audio retrocognition. One famous case involved two British sisters who took a vacation in Dieppe, France in 1951. They were woken one morning at 4am by the sounds of warfare. Bombs, machine guns, rifles, screams surrounded them. Imagine the panic they felt upon waking to hear such terrifying sounds? However, they were the only two in the hotel to hear the paranormal soundtrack. Nine years eariler, on August 14, 1942, Dieppe as the scene of a brutal air raid. The sounds heard by the sisters are consistant with the sounds of the battle that waged nearly a decade before. The audio battle lasted until 7am.

Retrocognition has also been used to solve crimes and in archeology. I remember a book some years ago by, I think, Virginia Henley where a woman found a gold Roman coin and was suddenly thrust back into ancient Rome. It was a good book, but the retrocognition in it opened the door for the heroine to experience a past life, so it's a little different than the examples I've provided here. Anyhoo, the concept of using retrocognition in ways other than for foreshadowing a trip into a past incarnation is very intriguing. Hmmm...I'll have to pull out some of my old story ideas and see if I've used it somewhere without realizing it.


02 December 2007

Sci-Fi 101

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy in a way no generation before mine could imagine and every generation after will take for granted. It gives a unique perspective on the world and what’s considered “common knowledge”.

In NBC’s new fall drama Journeyman, journalist Dan Vassar finds himself moved through time, forced to assist different individuals to reach whatever potential Fate/Destiny/The Universe has in store for them. It’s Quantum Leap meets Voyagers meets Every Super Hero Bestowed With Powers Without Explanation or Choice. What makes Journeyman stand out is that the character isn’t lost in the past but transported there in segments of time that range from minutes to days. He has to hold down a job and keep his family together in the present while being unexpectedly yanked into the past at any moment. It makes for a greater emotional interplay than any show it borrows from, and it also makes for the most interesting conversations on the part of Dan Vassar.

In one episode he attempts to explain the fact that he’s a time traveler and absolutely everything he said made sense. To me. He was talking to someone from the late 60’s/early 70’s and they were completely lost. It highlighted for me the change in perspective over a single generation.

From books to movies to television I’ve been exposed to the concepts of faster-than-light space travel, timeline manipulation, terra-forming, artificial intelligences and human-tech hybridization as common ideas of the future. My childhood is full of parallel universes, quantum leap accelerators, flux capacitors, and modified deflector dishes emitting tachyon pulses.

I know that if I discover a time machine in the future and go back into the past to tell myself how to build it, I’ve created a causal loop. I know that no computer system should ever be given autonomous control over a defense system because it will eventually try to kill us all. And no matter how much of a good idea it sounds like at the time—no good can come of a super-virus because it WILL escape and devastate the entire planet if not the entire solar system.

It’s all common knowledge. Even if you don’t quite understand how the science works, you know it works and that’s enough. I could no more imagine not understanding the idea of the space time continuum than my godchildren could conceive that people once lived without computers in their living rooms. Some things have just always been…even when you know they haven’t.

What have you noticed seeping into the collective consciousness and becoming part of the common knowledge in the last years?

Sci-Fi 101 Ramble Done


01 December 2007

Guest Blogger: Beverly Rae

Would You Want A Power?

Carolan Ivey offered me this chance to guest blog and I was more than happy to accept the invitation. I’m a fan of Carolan’s and Beyond the Veil, as well as a fellow author. Like Carolan, I write paranormal romance although most of my books are the lighter, sexy, contemporary paranormals. However, I do stray into the dark side of paranormals every once in awhile, too.

I was thinking about what I’d like to write when one of my favorite television shows, Ghost Whisperer, came on the screen. As I watched this week’s ghost appear to the main character, I began to wonder. What would it be like to have a power like hers? Would I appreciate such a gift? Or would it be more of a curse? For that matter, what would it be like to have any kind of supernatural power?

Would you want such a power? Would you like to be a modern-day Nostradamus and see the future? How would you feel seeing dead people pop up in your living room right before the in-laws dropped by for a holiday dinner? Which makes me wonder…how does John Edward, a real psychic medium, handle parties? Do the other guests hit him up for readings like a doctor being asked for free medical advice? Does he walk into a room and have to immediately declare that he’s “tuned out” for the night for him to simply enjoy being a normal partygoer? Or does he accept the fact that he is the ultimate party favor?

I believe everyone at one time or another has wondered about having a super power. For instance, I remember wishing I was Samantha from the old Bewitched show when I found out that my best friend in high school had cheated with my boyfriend. Oh how I wanted to twitch my nose and turn her into an ant and him into an anteater! Thankfully for them, I was just plain ole me and couldn’t take supernatural revenge. But could I really handle the stress of seeing ghosts like the Ghost Whisperer does? Would I want my days interrupted by messengers from the Other Side? I don’t think so. I’d become a nervous wreck.

There are, however, certain powers I would love to have, while there are others I wouldn’t want even for a ton of money. Let’s take a look at a few.

Divination or Predicting the Future: Maybe it’s just the planner in me, but I’d love to see the future. I’m always making lists and goals, and it would make me incredibly happy to know all my efforts were going to pay off. If the future wasn’t as bright as I’d like, I’d still want to know so I could plan accordingly. Unlike a lot of people, I’d want to see the path ahead of me whether it’s a smooth walkway or a rocky road.

Speaking with the Dead: Uh-uh. This one is definitely not for me. I don’t like uninvited guests, even in living breathing forms, so I’m thinking a surprise visit from my neighbor’s Aunt Maud wouldn’t sit well with me, either. The Ghost Whisperer heroine and John Edward can keep this power all to themselves.

Invisibility: I can definitely see the practicality of this power. Think of all the gossip I could have by slinking around unseen. Other uses come to mind, too. Like gaining free access to a concert or never again worrying over a zit on my chin. Heck, I could do anything, go anywhere without getting dressed, much less worry about my hairstyle flopping.

Flying: This ability, I think, would depend on the specifics of the trip. Sure, it’d be great to fly on over to Hawaii, free of charge and with no delays, but what about luggage? Who can go anywhere without at least three pairs of shoes? So, if I had to choose, flying wouldn’t make the top of the powers list for me.

Super-Strength: As far as safety goes, I think this power would come in handy. I’d feel secure knowing I could take down any mugger and bring him to his knees. Plus, I could get rid of all those rubber grips I use to open jars.

Intuitive Psychic: In my book, TOUCH ME, my heroine has the ability to touch a person and name their soul mate. I chose this power for her because being able to help people find their true love appeals to me. I mean, what’s better than helping people find someone to share their life?

After going through some of my choices of possible super powers, I discovered something very exciting. In a way, authors do have a super power. Much like the intuitive psychic in my book, writers are helping people—albeit fictitious people—find love. Yet in doing so, we also take the reader into worlds of joy and affection, giving them a taste of what true love can be like. Next to having the power to touch someone and tell them the name of their soul mate, writing the stories where wonderful romance can happen is the next best thing.

Beverly Rae – http://www.beverlyrae.com/
Giggle, Gasp & Sigh with a Beverly Rae Romance