It has been a whirlwind of activity these past couple of months
for this blogger. Between traveling, baking, weddings, and helping my mom prepare for the RWA Conference this year, it’s no wonder the time has seem to fly by.
Speaking of this year’s RWA conference, what an amazing
experience! I had the honor of accompanying my mom to the awards ceremony and it was fantastic. To see all these amazing writers in one venue, able to share their passion and excitement for writing, was inspiring. I was able to see authors that I had grown up reading, from a distance of course, and I was blown away.
It reminded me of the time I met my first author.
I was a freshman in college and Janet Evanovich was at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas,
signing her new book. My mom, Aunt, and I drove down to the Mirage and stood in line anxiously waiting to meet Janet. We had pre-bought our books, so between reading chapters in line and chatting the hours passed rather quickly. When it was finally our turn, I had so many butterflies, and had no idea what to say.
Janet was amazing though. She chatted like we were all old friends, took pictures, and signed our books.
The best part of the whole experience for me was getting to meet Janet’s daughter while we were waiting in line. Her daughter was walking around and chatting with everyone in line and passing out stickers. She was so super sweet and friendly. At the time, my mom was only starting her writing path. However, when my mom finally made the commitment to chase her dreams of becoming published, one of my first thoughts was of Janet’s daughter and how I couldn’t wait to do the same thing. One day, I will be able to chat with people who love my mother’s writing like I do. Hopefully, one year, I will be able to stand and cheer for my mom when she wins an award at the RWA conference.
Who was your first author you met and what was your favorite part? I would love to hear your experiences as well. Until next time plus ones.
So this year marks a milestone birthday for me and my twin (no, I’m not telling which one). However, I did decide on the perfect present. I am going to take a trip to England. It is someplace I’ve always wanted to visit. I remember reading Regency romance and wondering about the places mentioned in those stories. I fell in love with Sherlock Holmes and wondered what it would be like to be in a place where everyone spoke with that British accent. And, yes, I know Sherlock is fictional, but I hear there is tourist attraction for the
Baker Street address!
When, during my late teens, I became enthralled with the Jack the Ripper mystery, I wanted to visit England and take a tour. So, this year, we’re going. I will have my twin sister and my daughter along with me. It
will definitely be an experience as we have very few specifically planned events. We want to take a walking tour and visit only a few monuments. We plan to take a train up to Scotland while we’re there as well.
Our trip is going to be for 10 days. Ten days of pure enjoyment. The best part is our little trio loves adventures. We intend to go and simply experience. Although, we don’t leave until the middle of next month, I thought I’d share our excitement in this blog. You see, we got the tickets and our passports already. Tonight, we’re booking hotel rooms and planning on what towns we want to see. This will be my daughter’s first trip outside of the United States and she is tickled.
We’ll take tons of photos and I’ll be sharing them on my blog post once we return. My daughter rocks on photos. If you doubt me, check out my website and be prepared to be dazzled. I can’t wait to show you pictures!
I hear the temperatures will be in the sixties, which works for me. I love to layer clothes and only hope that I don’t get too many blisters from all the walking we intend to do. I even hit up my friend, and author, Jana
Oliver for tips on travelling there. She was awesome and gave me lots of information.
One of the positive points is that, although, folks will be heavily accented, it will be in English. I remember back in 199-something, when I went to Germany with my brother, how nervous I was in that I didn’t speak
German. I was happy to find out that there was always someone who spoke English in all the places we visited. I’ll dig up my photos from that trip and blog about it another time.
That’s it for this week. If you have ever gone overseas, or even
to England or Scotland and would like to share any tips, please
It’s only been a little over a week since the RWA 13 conference for Romance Writers, but my mind is still absorbing all the wonderful information from the workshops. Thanks to fellow blogster and roomie, Mia McKimmy, my notes are all recorded in an attractive leather notebook. Thanks, Mia!
It was a bit intimidating to realize all the things I still need to do before my book launch in November, but I’m thankful I learned what to do and how to do it. Of course, no one can attend all the simultaneous workshops, but I wanted to mention a few of the most helpful writers who shared their expertise. Again, my apologies to all the writers who contributed to make the conference so successful, but whose workshops I was unable to attend.
Jana Oliver and Tyra Burton presented a two-hour workshop on using social media that had a ton of suggestions for having an active social media presence. If you were unable to attend, I highly recommend downloading the workshop handout which included templates for maintaining an online presence.
Another workshop on marketing your first book had an excellent panel of historical authors. Valerie Bowman generously is allowing conference attendees to download her marketing e-book for free. It is full of helpful information and includes the actual marketing plan for her first bestselling book.
Two of the more unusual workshops I attended included one for using your sense of smell and taste in your writing (by Virginia McCullough), and another on dream journaling to enrich your writing (by Paula Chaffee Scardamalia). Years ago, I used to keep a dream journal and am looking forward to getting back in the habit. For writers interested in incorporating the senses more in their prose, I recommend reading A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. She has that rare ability to combine scientific facts in a lyrical, interesting manner that combine to make an elegant read.
This was my first conference and I’m so fortunate that I had an opportunity to meet with staff and fellow Harlequin writers in their many events. Of course, the most fun event was the cocktail party/dance at the Ritz-Carlton where I sat mere feet away from Nora Roberts.
The networking experience was awesome as I met famous writers and editors and connected in-person with people I’d only met online. I was able to spend a glorious fifteen minutes with Deborah Smith, Belle Books editor and best-selling author, and tell her how much I loved her old novel, Alice at Heart, which was about a mermaid living in North Georgia. She inspired my own series of romance novels which my agent sold to Harlequin Nocturne.
Yes, I returned home a bit worn out and my pocketbook a whole lot lighter, but I am so glad I was able to attend. I live fairly close to Atlanta so this might be my only opportunity to afford the national conference. Thank you to Sherrie Morgan for booking the room and encouraging me to go.
Share your conference highlights!
(Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
There is a huge difference in the way vampires are perceived today and how they were described in popular literature throughout history. From the medieval vampire conceived as a foul- smelling, ugly creature, to the sophisticated, immaculately dressed hunk of today. The whole sexual element of a charming, smooth-talking individual only found its way into popular literature once the eighteenth century panic about vampire sightings had died down.
At the height of the Gothic craze for ghost stories and tales of the supernatural, an English poet called John Stagg, wrote a poem called The Vampyre. In the preface, he explained that the story was founded on opinions and reports from Hungary and several parts of Germany, towards the beginning of the last century. The poem tells a story of Herman, informing his wife Gertrude, that a recently dead friend named Sigismund leaves the grave at night and drains his blood as he sleeps. Herman knows he will soon die, become a vampire and come for her blood. This is a very long poem, but here are the verses where Herman tells his wife what to do when this happens:
“But, O Gertrude! dearest wife!
The keenest pangs hath last remain’d
When dead, I too shall seek thy life,
Thy blood by Herman shall be drained.
“But, to avoid this horrid fate,
Soon as I’m dead and laid in earth,
Drive thro’ my corpse a jav’lin straight; -
This shall prevent my coming forth.
“O watch with me, this last sad night,
Watch in your chamber here alone,
But carefully conceal the light
Until you hear my parting groan.
“The live-long night poor Gertrude sate,
Watch’d by her sleeping, dying lord;
The live-long night she mourn’d his fate,
The object whom her soul ador’d.
This is a tragic, romantic poem, and definitely does not end with a happily ever after. (But I loved it) Reminds me of the frightening stories my grandmother told when I was a child. Her stories always ended in tragedy.
Another romantic poet to write about vampires was Johann Ludwig von Tiecke, in his poem, The Bride of the Grave, and in his story, Wake Not the Dead! The story was part of a collection of folk tales based on the model of the Brothers Grimm, and was published in English in 1823. It told of Walter, a lord, and his wife, Brunhilda. Although they shared a passionate erotic love, Brunhilda had a terrible temper and terrorized the household. When she suddenly died, Walter took a new wife, Swanhilda, and they had two children. But Walter began to miss his lustful nights with Brunhilda, and compelled a sorcerer to wake her from the dead by giving her corpse blood to drink. Brunhilda returned to life more beautiful than ever, but with a worse temper and razor sharp teeth. She drained the blood of the household staff and family until all were dead. When she turned on Walter, he killed her. When he took another woman in his arms she turned into a snake. The castle caught fire, the walls fell in, and as he was crushed to death, he heard a voice command, “Wake Not the Dead!”
The theme of women becoming the seductive enchantress of death became popular among the romantic poets, including John Keats, whose poems, ‘The Lamia’ and ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’. Both stories depict beautiful women, who turn out to be supernatural beings that charm mortal men into spiritual slavery, leaving their life in ruins.
Lord Byron, one of the leading Romantic poets, was famously described by his married lover Lady Caroline Lamb as ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ also used women as the seductive enchantress in his poem, ‘The Giaour’ which actually mentions vampires by name. The story is about a Turkish girl, Leila, who falls in love with an infidel (the ‘giaour’ of the title). The infidel kills Leila’s husband, and is punished by becoming a vampire. It is thought that Lord Byron first heard of vampires on a grand tour of Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Lord Byron played a large part in the way we view vampires today. He was an aristocrat, playboy and the model for the first real vampire story by John William Polidori, ‘The Vampyre’ published in 1819.
Polidori was Byron’s personal physician, and in the summer of 1816, he stayed with Byron in Switzerland at a villa on Lake Geneva. There he spent time with Byron and his friends Percy Shelley, Shelley’s fiancée Mary Godwin, and Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clarmont.
Due to a lot of rain that summer, the little circle of friends was kept inside for several days at a time. They read a collection of horror fiction known as ‘Tales of the Dead’ then decided to have a writing contest. Mary Godwin, who later became Mary Shelley, came up with the idea for her novel ‘Frankenstein’ which is perhaps the most famous horror story of all time.
Lord Byron, for his part, began a story of a journey about an old man named Augustus Darvell. As the journey progresses, Darvell becomes weaker and when they reach a cemetery, his face becomes black and he starts to decompose. Byron had intended to have Darvell to come back as a vampire, but never finished the story.
Not long after they returned from Switzerland, John Polidori and Lord Byron had a falling out.
Polidori had been inspired by Lord Byron’s fragment of a story and wrote a short story of his own, ‘The Vampyre’. Its hero, Lord Ruthven, a bored and spoiled aristocrat, was based on Lord Byron.
Polidori’s story was published in the ‘New Monthly Magazine’ as a tale by Lord Byron in 1819. Both Polidori and Lord Byron protested that Byron was not the author, but to no avail. Buy this time, Lord Byron had become famous with the public, especially his armies of female admirers – who were clamoring for his work. Like many celebrities today, his bad behavior and sexual liaisons only made him more attractive to his female fans.
The story became an immediate sensation, partly because it was believed Byron had written it, but also because it met the public’s growing enthusiasm for gothic horror stories. It transformed the ugly, grotesque vampire of Slavic folklore into the suave, charismatic, upper-class villain we all know and love today.
Google these authors, poems, and short stories. I promise you’ll not regret it. If you're like me and love history and vampires, and there's “stories of old” you’re particularly fond of, please leave a comment. I would love to read them.
Until next time,
Yes, my fellow blogger wrote about preparing for the RWA Conference and I think we, as writers, look upon this time as an opportunity. Opportunity to network, to meet people we’ve only known via social media, and even to promote our stories. As Debbie said last week, we three writers of this blog are grouping up to face this conference together. It is the first for all of us and we are so very excited!
I don’t think I’m as organized as my fellow bloggers Debbie Herbert & Mia McKimmy. However, I did print out all seventeen pages, yes, that is 17 pages that create the list of the various workshops available at the RWA Conference this year. How on earth we’ll choose among them will be a task in of itself!
My main goal is to just experience it. Experience the conference and not let it overwhelm me. I am very lucky that Debbie and Mia are going to be there to help keep me grounded. I hope I can do the same for them. With so much going on, it’ll be nice to sneak away for a quiet moment here and there.
I think the best part is that for those few days, I will be surrounded by over a thousand people who love to read. Isn’t that awesome? Over a thousand people who, at one time or other, felt themselves
transported with a story. They were moved to read, and read and read. How fantastic! And in a few more days, I’ll be surrounded by them! I can’t wait.
I’ve got my suitcase partially packed. I’m cramming in searches for tips and hints on how to survive my first national conference. I found out that our own RWA has tips and hints on what to do and what not to do. So, if you’re reading this. Go read that!
In the meantime, I’ve got 17 pages to review and emails to respond to. This is going to be great!
Then again…I might just ask Mia which ones she chose and just follow her around. I trust her and I won’t have to make any decisions. I do enough of that with my day job!
This year, I’ll be attending my very first Romance Writers of America national conference! Although it’s still three weeks away, I’m already charting my goals and agenda to maximize the experience. I’ve divided my goals into three main areas: Networking, Craft, and Fun.
Since I’m rooming with my two peeps and fellow blog writers, Sherry Morgan and Mia McKimmy, the fun part is pretty much nailed. Though we all belong to the Georgia RWA chapter, we don’t live near one another so our face-to-face time has been limited.
Also on the fun agenda will be attending the Southern Gothic Soiree on Thursday night which is hosted by the Georgia RWA chapter. The following night, Harlequin hosts its authors-only party at the Ritz-Carlton. I’ve always heard they throw the best parties so I’m really looking forward to this one!
My networking goals include (hopefully) meeting the fabulous Ann Leslie Tuttle, Senior Editor for Harlequin. I’ll be forever grateful she saw potential in my writing and offered me my first publishing contract. Nothing like saying thank you in person. I’m also interested in meeting other Harlequin writers and editors as well.
I’m looking forward to meeting MV Freeman who is represented by the same agent as me. We’ve tweeted and FB’d and emailed many times over the past year. We’ve both admitted to being #notpartyanimals and agreed to meet up for a quiet time out and cup of coffee when the pace of the crowd gets overwhelming.
I have an editor appointment with best-selling author Deborah Smith. Not to pitch anything, but to tell her how much I love one of her old books, Alice at Heart. This book about a North Georgia mermaid inspired my own mermaid novels which will be published by Harlequin.
I don’t know if writer Alexandra Sokoloff will be attending, but would sure love to meet her if she is. Her writing books have helped me so much in plotting my own.
And I’ll keep my eyes open for other opportunities to meet industry professionals and other writers. You never know who will be your newest friend or mentor!
My craft goals are to cram as many workshops as I can over the three days they’re offered. Definitely plan on buying the CDs for all the workshops I was unable to attend. I’m still skimming through the eighteen pages of workshop descriptions and trying to narrow the field as to what I most need at this point in my career. They all look interesting. Many thanks to everyone who volunteered to be a workshop presenter.
I’ve outlined all my major conference goals. Now all I have to do is worry about driving through downtown Atlanta without getting lost—probably the toughest task of all for this directionally-impaired writer! Oh, and hope I don’t make some stupid gaffe or social faux pas that screams newbie to everyone.
So what are your conference goals?
Hope to see you in Atlanta!
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In my previous post, I talked about signs that led people to believe an infant could turn into a vampire. I decided to do a series of post on the legends of vampires, since my WIP 'Sons of Sivadia' is about a new breed of living vampire.
It is believed that some of the vampire myths may have started as a result of fear, and the decomposition of a body. In Medieval times, it was common for ordinary people to see human bodies after they had died. Peasants had to bury their own dead, and sometimes religious rituals involved leaving an open coffin in the house for several days, giving relatives and friend’s time to come pay their respects. After all, they couldn’t just hop in the car and go thirty miles in a matter of minutes, as we can.
According to what the person died of and the conditions where the body was being stored (extreme heat, cold, moisture) the effects of decomposition on a human corpse could be quiet terrifying.
The Slavic ‘old religion’ was full of beliefs about the spirits of the dead that watched how families and friends behaved after they were gone. They believed the dead were jealous of the living and might take revenge in some way. Also, the Christian church’s teaching on immortality was twisted so that, instead of life after death being a reward for living a decent life, it became a form of eternal damnation, with the vampire emerging from the grave to wreak its evil revenge on the living. For this reason, a number of horrific mutilations were performed before the body was buried.
We all know that piercing the heart with a wooden stake was thought to kill a vampire, preventing it from rising at night and stalking its victims. If the stake was made of rosewood or ash, it was considered to be more effective. Who knows how that one came to be?
There were some precautions with more severe corpse mutilations. Such as, the head and feet would be cut off so the corpse couldn’t rise from the grave and walk into the village from the churchyard. They would be buried beneath the buttocks so it couldn’t get them from beneath the body when it came back to life.
In other cases, the heart might be taken out and put on top of the head. Some bodies were often mutilated more severely, and the body parts tied together in a bundle before being placed in the grave. Occasionally, nails would be driven into the head. Wow! That’s a little extreme.
Other slightly less gruesome, but equally superstitious ‘precautions’ were taken to prevent dead bodies from becoming vampires.
The eyes were weighted down with coins to prevent the vampire from seeing when it woke up.
The mouth tied closed, so it couldn’t bite victims, or stuffed with garlic, which was considered a powerful deterrent.
It was also common practice to break the legs of a corpse and cut the knee ligaments.
Further precautions included burying the corpse face down, or burning it and scattering the ashes over a nearby river.
Once the body was in the grave, the anxiety still did not stop. A number of rituals were performed to keep it there. One bizarre method was to lead a virgin boy sitting on a virgin stallion through the graveyard. In Albania, the stallion had to be black, while in other countries it had to be white. If a vampire was lurking in one of the graves, the stallion would refuse to walk past it.
If everyone in a village didn’t agree with the methods used, the body would be exhumed, only to find it peacefully rotting away with no signs of vampirism.
Much of what’s known today about medieval superstitions concerning vampires comes from archaeologists, who have found remains from mutilated skeletons buried for hundreds of years.
Stay tuned for the next post, I plan to discuss some of the popular poems, novels, and movies over the last few centuries. And, it’s all about vampires.
Until next time,
Hello everyone. I’m a couple days late with this post. It was interesting when I began writing, I was going to relate my visit with my son. He came home on post deployment leave last week. He saw me preparing a guacamole dip and teased me. That changed the direction of my thoughts to my taste in food. Yes, a roundabout way to do it, but sometimes, that’s the way my mind works. Strangely, eh?
Anyways, I was thrown back to when I was around ten years old. My mother used to make salads by tossing together lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and mayo around in a bowl and serving it up. I liked it and always grabbed up a bunch on my dinner plate. But then, one night, she got sneaky. As I took my first bite, I tasted fish. Fish? I, as any normal child would do, spit it out and looked. Small shrimp. My mother had snuck shrimp into our salad! Oh, the betrayal! I was very upset with her. She later apologized and said she forgot she put them in there. Right, huh? But, I believed her. I was only a child. A few weeks later, I happily took a mouthful of my other favorite dish, Swiss steak. Being a child, I did what any normal child would do when confronted with not a flavorful steak in their mouth…but liver, I gagged, spit it out and ran to the bathroom to dispose of everything in my stomach. (I was convinced it had contaminated my organs!)
And so began the distrust of my mother’s dishes. I would carefully inspect before eating anything that wasn’t obvious to me. As I got older, I swore I would never do the same thing to my children. When I wanted to
present a new food into their diet, I would tell them my rule. “Three bites is all that is required.” I felt this was sufficient to give them the opportunity to even like the new food item. Most times, it didn’t work. But, sometimes it did. As a mom, everyone knows we cheer the times it did.
I read an article a few years ago which said that our taste buds change every few years. I shared this with my kids in hopes they would be willing to try new foods from time to time. By the way, one of my favorite fish
is shrimp. But, I still don’t like liver.
If you have a quirky way of trying to get your family to try new things, I’d love to hear about it.
I'm officially over the hill. The picture of my newest health kick device proves it.
Yes, I've joined the growing ranks of baby boomers who still want to ride a bicycle but find balancing their middle aged fannies on the narrow, stiff seat of a traditional bicycle akin to torture after a mere ten minutes.
After nearly two months of daily rides on a traditional bike, I tried to convince myself that my behind would acclimate to the seat, but that never happened.
My husband and I even attempted mountain biking but the best place in our area was a lake trail studded with tree roots and rocks. Racing downhill, I became convinced I was only one protruding root away from serious injury. It didn't help that halfway through the trail was a commemorative marker where a biker had fallen and died.
Not exactly encouraging.
Then there was the day we kept getting bogged down in mud. The last straw came when my husband discovered a tick on his leg after a ride.
Humbled, we began riding bikes at a nearby state park, on a flat paved surface, where we ran into a dozen people riding these weird bikes that set low to the ground. We started riding with them, tried the recumbent bikes and fell in love. Now our only danger in the great outdoors is avoiding the snakes that creep out of the swampy bayou and slither onto the roads. Disgusting! So far, I've managed not to run over one.
According to the fitness site, LoseIt.com, an hour of bike riding burns 414 calories at the slow rate of 10-12 miles per hour. At a moderate pace of 12-14 miles an hour, I burn 500 calories. If I went crazy and manged a fast or racing speed, I could use 643 to over 1,000 calories an hour.
That would burn a lot of cheesecake!
We are happily planning our first long bike ride in Piedmont, Alabama on the Chief Ladiga Trail and the Georgia Silver Comet Trail. On a traditional bike, I could never accomplish a twenty or fifty mile long trip such as this.
Hope everyone has found some healthy, fun summer activity to enjoy. Happy trails to all!
(Courtesy of ddpavumba@FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
In our age of technical, medical and every other type of advancement imaginable, you may believe we could never have silly, superstitious beliefs like our ancestors did. But, maybe the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree.
I actually began thinking about this back when Stephanie Myers' Twilight Series came out. As a writer, I wasn’t bothered in the least by the idea of a vampire baby. Hey, it’s fiction. However, some of my non-writer friends were appalled by the idea, one to the point of not finishing the series. So I decided to do a little research. Here are a few facts I found pertaining to vampire babies.
In the Middle Ages, the timing of a baby’s birth held negative as well as positive significance. Much the same as the details of the child’s lineage could have all kinds of mysterious meanings, such as, the seventh son of the seventh son might be considered to have supernatural powers.
Many of the old superstitions pertained to birth defects and abnormalities that would be considered normal today. During my years as a labor and delivery nurse, I came across one such superstition that's still around today.
I assisted in a delivery where the baby was born with what they called a veil. This is actually a membrane from the amniotic sac that separates the baby from the wall of the mother’s womb. It is completely normal, but when it fails to rupture during delivery the baby will emerge wrapped inside it. This hardly ever happens today because if it doesn’t rupture on its own the doctor will do it. Some still believe that a baby born under a veil will have special powers. For example: It’s believed if you touch the child it could bring good luck, heal the sick, or ward off evil. Twins born with a veil are said to have a guardian angel throughout life.
In the relatively small town where I live, word spread fast about the birth I’d witnessed. Several local clergymen and priests came to see the baby born under a veil. This proved to me that some of the superstitions of old still thrived in today's modern society.
The origins of the vampire legend go back centuries, to the dark ages of Transylvania, and the pagan beliefs of the Slavic people. Vampire folklore dominated the lives of peasants and priests during the Middle Ages.
As the vampire myth spread from the Balkans and took hold of the imaginations of Europe, so did the superstitions connecting a baby’s birth and vampirism. First and foremost were birth defects that would be considered normal today. If you had been born during medieval times with any of these minor abnormalities, people would’ve believed you were, or would eventually become, a vampire.
I’m certainly glad I wasn’t born in Romania. How did anyone ever live until adulthood?
Even if you weren’t afflicted by something unusual at birth, there were plenty of superstitions that carried over into an adult’s life.
If you think the living were a target for vampire superstitions, once a person died, it went into overdrive. Maybe I’ll save that for another post. And I’ve only scratched the surface for the living!
This has been a fun topic. But, I've always enjoyed talking about vampires and everything paranormal. For this writer, there's no other genre I'd be happy thinking about 24/7.
Please hit the 'Comments' button below, and share vampire mythology/superstitions that you’ve come across. Are any of them still alive today? And how do you feel about fictional, vampire babies?
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Until next time,