Clarissa Johal: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Frightening Friday-The Bogeyman

Photo courtesy of Driscoll via morgueFile
You know who I'm talking about--that thing that lives in your closet or, as mine did, under your bed. He only comes out at night and sadly, can only be seen by children. Or those of us that haven't grown up yet.
It is the Bogeyman. a mythical (huh!) creature used by adults to frighten bad children into good behavior. Except that it never works. Because even after the "good behavior" is attained, he sticks around to feed off your fear.

Bogeymen may target a specific mischief—for instance, punish children who don't eat their vegetables or who don't do their chores. Mine was called upon to punish me for getting out of bed at night. It wasn't my fault. Not only was I an insomniac, but I was a sleepwalker, afraid of the dark, had nightmares....yeah, I had issues. My parents sent in a Bogeyman to sort me out. Except he didn't. He just ended up taking residence under my bed and feeding on the dust bunnies that lived there. Sometimes, he would hide in my closet. I have no idea what he fed on in there, quite possibly my dirty socks, I was always missing one from a pair. Naughty Bogeyman.

In some Latin countries he's referred to as the Sack Man because he carries little children away in a sack. In the Netherlands, he's portrayed as a creature who resembles a man dressed in black, with sharp claws and fangs. He hides under the bed or in the closet, steals children who refuse to sleep, and locks them up in his basement. In Algeria, he's made up of various animal parts and has eyes that are blobs of flaming spit and a coat made of the clothes of the children he eats. In Belgium he's a cannibalistic shape-shifter that's able to change forms between a human, to that of a black dog.

I imagine these Bogeyman having yearly Bogeyman Conventions. Workshops and classes discussing various ways to terrify little children. But I could be wrong. 

Off I go to appease mine. Toss a dust bunny or two at him and he stays under the bed where he belongs. These days, my closet is way too full.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Naming the Bones

I read a news story last Friday night and can't seem to get it out of my head. Have you ever done that? I keep scouring the internet for updates and end up rereading the same story, over and over. In a scramble of rewrites and edits on a book I'm trying to finish by the end of the month, I don’t need to be doing this.

It seems they found a 900-year-old murder victim in an archaeological dig at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, Scotland. The man's remains are dated from the 12th or 13th century and, from what forensics can assess, he was fatally stabbed four times in the back, twice in the left shoulder and twice in the ribs. The accuracy of the wounds suggest a degree of professionalism and calculation in the killing. Judging by the marks left on the bones, the weapon was probably a specialist military weapon. It's unclear whether he suffered any further injuries, because his legs and some of the right side of the body were missing. The archaeologists say the man was over 20-years-old, had a slightly better build than average, and had wear to his shoulder, which suggests he might have been an archer.

When I read this news story, I got teary-eyed. It was late and I'd been working on my rewrites, so perhaps I was tired. But I kept wondering what could have possibly happened. Was it a military death? A brawl gone wrong? Did someone want something he had? They found artifacts that suggest a community lived at the site. Did anyone miss him? Was someone waiting for him to come home, only to have him never show? The news story mentions he'll be reburied, but he cannot be identified. And without a name, the grave will be unmarked. I keep envisioning forensic specialists, archaeologists and everyone involved, all analyzing, poking and prodding at this man's remains. Carbon-dating his bones, assessing the size, shape and relative positions of the injuries--scientific analysis of an event in history.
On a man with no name. A man that had a life.

So, that's what's been occupying my thoughts, as of late. To the point of distraction. There's a story in there somewhere, but I have to yet figure out what it is. I've given him a name though. Or he's given it to me. I dreamed he tapped me on the shoulder and whispered it in my ear. I wrote it down and it sits in my story file--waiting for him to tell me his story.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Foodie Wednesday-Fabulous Cheese Fondue

Photo courtesy of MaxStraeten via morgueFile
Remember the '70s? Not that...um, I would, of course. But fondues were pretty popular back then. In my family, it was a nice way to bring everyone together and share something special. This recipe is super-easy because you can make it in a crock-pot--no fondue set needed.





1 T butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1T flour
1/2 cup vegetable stock (you can use white wine, if you prefer)
1/4 cup milk
8-oz shredded cheddar cheese
8-oz shredded Parmesan cheese
2-oz blue cheese, crumbled

Combine all ingredients in crock-pot. Cover and cook on low for 2-2-1/2 hours, stirring once or twice until cheese is melted and smooth.

Serve with vegetables, french bread chunks, or whatever strikes your fancy!

And while you're enjoying dinner, how about a little background music?
Sorry, couldn't help myself





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-One of Those Days

You ever have one of those days where the dog needs to go to the vet at the same time the cat yaks on the floor...where the voices in your head are starting to sound like characters from South Park...the house is a wreck and the laundry needs to be done, but you have edits to finish or can just kiss your career good-bye...you've got three appointments all in one day because apparently, appointments breed like rabbits, but if you don't make it to the gym you will seriously go insane...the kids need to go in a gazillion different directions and omg, your older daughter has a report due, and your younger daughter has some major drama going on with the girls at school because (insert name here) is a total spaz?   Yeah, one of those days.

Back to edits...

I leave you with this, because it's just how I roll.



Monday, February 24, 2014

STRUCK Virtual Book Blast Tour

STRUCK is on a virtual book tour!

*I will be giving away 3 ecopies of STRUCK to randomly drawn commenters during the tour.

**Winners have been notified. Thank you for stopping by!



STRUCK
The shadows hadn't been waiting.
The shadows had been invited.

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.

Buy Links
Amazon
Musa Publishing
Barnes and Noble

Monday February 24th Book Blast Tour 

1: Sharing Links and Wisdom
2: Kit 'N Kabookle
3: Andi's Book Reviews
4: Christine Elaine Black
5: Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
6: The blog of C.R. Moss
7: Long and Short Reviews
8: Linda Mercury
9: My Odd Little World
10: The Book Review
11: Blood Moons and Nightscapes
12: Readers Writers Connect
13: fuonlyknew ~ Laura's Ramblins and Reviews
14: Author Nancy Adams
15: fundinmental
16: Welcome to My World of Dreams
17: It's Raining Books
18: Straight from the Library
19: Room With Books
20: The Cerebral Writer
21: Zombiegirl Shambling
22: Rose and Beps Blog
23. The Story Echo



Friday, February 21, 2014

Frightening Friday-Bloody Mary

*Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com  dpawatts
Has anyone tried this game when they were a kid? I never did, but my daughters tell me that it's all the rage.

Here's the premise:
You start with a lit candle in a dark bathroom. Holding the candle, you close your eyes and spin around three times saying, "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary." When you open your eyes, you look into the mirror and the spirit of Bloody Mary will be there to greet you. She is usually covered in blood, will either slit your throat, pull you into the mirror for eternity, strangle you, or otherwise cause a very violent death.

Well, that's fun.

So why "Bloody Mary?" Variations of the game are "Mary Worth," "Mary Worthington" and "Hell Mary."

The folklore seems to be a blend of a divination ritual combined with a couple of historical (or made up) figures. Why? Because folklore is a complex thing; a blend of oral history, legends, stories and fairy tales.

The ritual is similar to one during Victorian times which was said to foretell the futures of young, unmarried women. In a darkened house, the woman would walk up a flight of stairs backwards, while holding a candle and a hand mirror. As they gazed into the mirror, they would be able to see the face of their future husband. There was, however, a small chance they would see the Grim Reaper, boding an early demise. But alas, it was the price to pay when dabbling in divination and the occult.

As far as to whom "Bloody Mary" refers to, there are many claims. Mary I, Queen of England was commonly known as "Bloody Mary." She earned the nickname by violently executing and burning people at the stake for heresy throughout her reign. Mary I of England was known as "Bloody Mary" because of the number of Protestants put to death during her reign. Another woman said to be the conjured spirit in the mirror, is Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed. Elizabeth is labelled the most prolific female serial killer in history; remembered as the "Blood Countess." It was said she tortured and murdered hundreds of girls, bathing in their blood to make herself more beautiful. 

Another variation of this ritual uses the name Mary Worth, a witch that supposedly lived over 100 years ago. She was executed for dabbling in the black arts and her spirit seeks revenge. Yet another variation uses the name Mary Worthington. This Mary supposedly preyed upon and murdered many children in and around her small town. In some accounts, she was caught and tortured to death by the townspeople. In others, she was purposely disfigured before being executed. However, there is no historical evidence to back up the stories of a Mary Worth or Mary Worthington.

These days, Bloody Mary boils down to no more than folklore and a slumber party game. But try and tell your teens that and they will ignore you. It's more fun to be scared, after all.

So...do you want to try it out? Go on, I double-dog dare you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Coming Out of the Paranormal Closet

Photo courtesy of Penywise via morgueFile
I may just get the eye-roll here, but here goes. I believe in ghosts. Which kind of sounds like I just admitted to believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and I don't. But then again...

There's an awful lot of paranormal shows on television that seek proof of ghosts. Any proof. A tiny sound, the small movement of a curtain, a degree drop in temperature. It kind of makes me laugh because I feel it's unnecessary. I don't need "proof" that ghosts exist--I know they do. Why do they need proof? What happens once they get it? What then? I long to go on these shows and point, "There, there and there! Don't you see them?" But that's another story.

Ghosts were people. People with issues, people without issues. People that want to move on, and some that don't. I have yet to understand "other" paranormal entities (non-ghosts, if you will) but again, they are what they are.
My kids don't understand why I'm unafraid of ghosts and other entities. I write about the paranormal. It's meant to scare and to cause thought, but it's fiction. Rarely have I ever come across activity that's scary. It is what it is. Accept it, and it becomes part of the normal world.
Which doesn't mean I won't try and scare you, because I delight in that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Coffee

Photo courtesy of omdur via morgueFile
I love coffee. Seriously love it. I can go a day without eating, but coffee? No way. Cream, no sugar, two cups in the morning and one in the afternoon. My favorite coffee used to be Peet's Sumatra but since I've changed coffee makers (I've gone Keurig) I find that Gevalia French Roast tastes better. Thank goodness for reusable cup filters because buying coffee pods can be quite expensive!

I got to wondering--how many coffee companies are there in the world? The following list doesn't include independent roasters, there are far too many, but check some of these out (and yes, setting these links up took forever, lol). It's my mission to give them a try. It may take me years...or not, but I'll let you know how it goes.




Alterra Coffee Roasters

An Giang Coffee

Aroma Espresso Bar

Barcaffe

Bewley's

Black Ivory Coffee

Bridgehead Coffee

Café Bom Dia

Café Britt

Café Coffee Day

Cafédirect

Caffè Nero

Caffé Vita Coffee Roasting Company

Caribou Coffee

Coffee Beanery

Coffeeshop Company

Colectivo Coffee Roasters

Coop Kaffe

Costa Coffee

Dallmayr

Death Wish Coffee

Delta Cafés

Diedrich Coffee

Douwe Egberts

Dulce Café

Dunkin' Donuts

Dunn Bros

Eight O'Clock Coffee

Equal Exchange

Gloria Jean's Coffees

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Highlands Coffee

Illy

Indian Coffee House

Jittery Joe's

The J.M. Smucker Company *Folgers, Millstone Coffee, Douwe Egberts in the USA, Cafe Bustelo, Kava, Life is Good, Medaglia D'Oro, Pilon

Juan Valdez Cafe

Koa Coffee Plantation

Kraft Foods *Café HAG, General Foods International, Gevalia, Jacobs, Kenco, Maxwell House, Nabob,Sanka, Tassimo

Lavazza

Massimo Zanetti *Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company, Chock full o'Nuts, Hills Brothers Coffee, MJB, Segafredo Zanetti

Matthew Algie

Maxwell House

Melitta

Mikel Coffee Company

Nestlé *Nescafé, Nespresso, Taster's Choice

New England Coffee

Peet's Coffee & Tea

Sara Lee Corporation

Starbucks *Seattle's Best

Starr's Market

Strauss *Elite Instant Coffee, Elite Turkish Coffee, Platinum

Tchibo

Tim Hortons

Top Shelf Coffee

Trung Nguyên

Tully's Coffee

Van Houtte



Photo courtesy of godidwlr via morgueFile
Let's not forget the independent roasters!

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

8th Sin Coffee Company

Larry's Beans




If you have a favorite--let me know. *:D big grin


Sunday, February 16, 2014

#Paranormal Monday-Demons


Buer, the 10th spirit, who teaches "Moral and Natural Philosophy" 
 The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King (1904)
Image Use: Public Domain
Here be demons...

They've been feared and worshiped by various cultures around the world. They are exorcised by priests and shamans and medicated by psychologists. They've shown up in literature, art and music since the dawn of time. Demons have an interesting history.   So, when did demons become, well...demonized?

The English word demon is derived from daimōn, a Greek word meaning a spiritual being who influences a person’s character--and not always in an evil way. The Greeks divided their demons. An agathos daimōn (good demon) was benevolent in its relationship with humans, while a kakódaimōn daimōn (bad demon) was more of a malevolent spirit. The Greek philosopher Socrates spoke of his daimōna, a spirit that inspired him to seek and speak the truth.

In many pagan cultures, demon was a term used to describe a spirit, deity or a god. It could also refer to a spirit that had never been embodied or invisible forces found in nature; a waterfall, a tree, or even a rock. They could be malevolent, benevolent or neutral. It was only later that demons were considered inherently evil. Demons as entities were divided and renamed. Benevolent entities were called angels, while those viewed as malevolent were termed demons. This is a common thread throughout history--one culture adopts another's deities as adversaries of their gods/goddesses--and thus, they become evil.

It has been reported that 63% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 believe in demons. The numbers drop with older groups; 57% of Americans 47-65 and 44% of Americans over 65 years of age. The standard belief in American society today is that demons are evil and deceptive. In doing some research for this post, I came across the following signs indicating a demonic presence in your home, and none of them are good.

9 Signs of a Demonic Presence

1. Hearing voices that you cannot understand or voices that seem to talk in a foreign language.
2. An increase of paranormal activity starting at 3am, this becomes a pattern.
3. Nightmares that involve dark images or ideas.
4. Sleep deprivation due to noises, movement/disturbances in the bedroom, and temperature changes. A lack of sleep makes anyone easy prey--that is the demons goal.
5. Unexplained scratches, bruises. Being pushed, or having your hair pulled.
6. Growling sounds.
7. A haunting that mimics people, animals, or objects. Demons can present themselves as someone you know who is alive or dead. Intelligent hauntings do not have the ability to mimic.
8. Unexplained shadows or solid black masses. It has been reported that they may have red or glowing eyes.
9. Bad smells like rotten eggs, sulfur, and/or rotten meat or flesh. The smells have no apparent origin, but will sometimes feel the entire home or small space. They can dissipate as fast as they appear and have no apparent origin.

In most instances, there are logical explanations for these things. But there have been documented cases that have no explanation. In all honesty, I've experienced some of these "signs" myself. Do I think they're demon related? I seriously have no idea. Sleep deprivation? Take a number, I'm probably the only person who not only sleepwalks, but sleepwrites. Sleep is for the weak. I get unexplained scratches and bruises all the time because I'm just forgetful like that. Shadows and black masses--a common occurrence in my house but I suspect these entities aren't necessarily demonic. But the bad smells... There was one instance where I was hanging clothes in my closet. I was hit with the smell of rotting flesh that grew so strong, it made me queasy. The scent dissipated moments later. I've smelled rotting flesh, it's not a smell you'll forget. I found that incident especially perplexing with no explanation, but it hasn't happened again.
What have you experienced?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Bloody Valentine Blog Hop


The Bloody Valentine Blog Hop--Celebrating the bad side of love. On this stop, I'm going to talk about missed opportunities and destiny.

Have you ever met someone that you've clicked with instantly? There's an instant attraction and an overpowering feeling of, “I know what makes you tick.” Some would call this coincidence. Others would assert that, somewhere in time, your paths have crossed before. Reincarnated souls destined to be together.

Timing is everything in a relationship like this, whether it’s a friendship or beyond. Have you wondered what would happen if the timing was different? Should it be? What if that connection wasn't meant to be in this lifetime--should you alter your path to make it so?

BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal. Find out whose paths have crossed before and what they’ll do to make them cross again.

BETWEEN 
How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire. 
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012


Musa Publishing

Enter my giveaway by leaving a comment or via Rafflecopter to win an ecopy of BETWEEN and an ebook COOKING WITH MUSA from my publisher. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No missed opportunities, but please take a peek at my new release, STRUCK, a paranormal gothic horror.

STRUCK
The shadows hadn't been waiting. 
The shadows had been invited. 

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.

Author Bio:

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.



Please visit the other bloggers participating:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Getting the Correct Thumbnail to Show on Facebook Posts

Have you ever shared a Blogger post on Facebook only to have a completely unrelated thumbnail show? For instance, your post is on, "Spiritual and Demonic Possession" and Facebook grabs a photo of a deer from somewhere in your blog. Not the impact you were going for! You can upload the correct picture with the link, but it doesn't look nice like a Blogger post should.


So, here's how to fix that.
I won't go into too much techno-babble, because if you're like me, you really don't care.

You will need to copy and paste an HTML code (called a Meta description) into the template of your blog.

Step 1: Go to your blogger dashboard.
Step 2: Go to your Template and Edit HTML
Step 3: Save and backup your template before you do anything! It's always good to have a backup of your template, especially if you're going to mess with the HTML.
Step 4: Find the <head> tag in your template. To find it, use Control F and a box will appear in the top right corner of your screen. Type <head>
Step 5: Paste this code right below the line where <head> shows.

&lt;meta content=&#39;article&#39; property=&#39;og:type&#39;/&gt;
&lt;meta expr:content=&#39;data:blog.postImageThumbnailUrl&#39; property=&#39;og:image&#39;/&gt;
&lt;meta expr:content=&#39;data:blog.title&#39; property=&#39;og:site_name&#39;/&gt;
&lt;meta expr:content=&#39;data:blog.pageName&#39; property=&#39;og:title&#39;/&gt;
&lt;b:if cond=&#39;data:blog.metaDescription != &amp;quot;&amp;quot;&#39;&gt;
&lt;meta expr:content=&#39;data:blog.metaDescription&#39; name=&#39;description&#39;/&gt;
&lt;/b:if&gt;

Preview your blog to see that everything looks the same. Save your template.
You're done!

It won't work on updating the thumbnail of anything that's been published in your blog already, even if you revert the post to a draft and re-publish it, but it works on everything on out. If you have any problems, let me know and I'll try and help. Happy sharing!

*Something I found out while writing this post. To show an HTML code in a blog post on Blogger (without actually coding the post itself) go to Postable
Paste the HTML code you want to share in the box there, press the "make it friendly" button. Copy and paste into your blog. Voila!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Pumpkin Flax Chocolate Chip Waffles #recipe

These are a family favorite. Even the cat loves them (kidding!). They freeze well and can be microwaved or toasted. The added pumpkin and flax meal gives them an extra boost of nutrition!

Pumpkin Flax Chocolate Chip Waffles

Beat:

3 egg whites until stiff peaks form

Combine:

3 beaten egg yolks
1-2/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips
3T oil

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients:

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Stir dry ingredients and pumpkin mixture together, gently fold in egg whites.
Cook in waffle iron. Can be frozen

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Guest Author

This post is brought to you by guest blogger, author Rhea Rhodan. Rhea writes romances with a twist of magic, a touch of the paranormal. You can check out her latest release below.


More Than Just an Oracle
by Rhea Rhodan

Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti.
10 of Coins, 9 of Swords. If these two images conjure any meaning, you may have at least a passing acquaintance with the tarot. If not, don’t fret. I’ll try to keep this post in Kansas (though I do use it on the yellow-brick road too). Broadly speaking, the 10 of Coins represents the attainment of material success and security. The Nine of Swords reflects overwhelming anxiety.




Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti.

This particular pair of cards, drawn at random and employed as writing prompts, gave birth to the first scene of my latest release,The Legacy of Buchanan’s Crossing (click here to read the scene). Alas, Clint languished in a file waiting for a proper heroine to save him from his grim fate. After he finally caught Cayden’s fiery eye and she presented herself to me, I agreed she would be perfect for him. I wrote over a dozen scenes for the book employing (random) tarot card pairings, though not all of them were used in the final manuscript.

Conversely (or perversely), it was writing vignettes as a way to familiarize myself with a new tarot deck that gave birth to my fictional writing career. Though I’d told myself stories since before I could read and I’d pursued a journalism degree in college, I didn’t combine my imaginative inner life with a non-fiction writing life until those tarot vignettes. Once unleashed though, my stories refused to stay locked in my head.

I was a teen when I bought my first tarot deck, around 30 before I began collecting decks and studying the tarot in earnest. I was living in Germany at the time, trying to improve my language skills so I could get a decent job (while amusing myself with little stories in my head at the boring jobs available to me). Books in English were expensive, so I translated German versions of tarot books. My understanding of the tarot improved, as did my German—even if I did build a somewhat esoteric vocabulary. :>)
So by now, whether you fancy yourself a writer or not, you might be wondering how to use tarot cards as writing prompts. You don’t need to be familiar with the tarot to use them this way (or any other way, for that matter). You might want to have a reference handy though. Most decks come with at least a Little White Book (an apt industry term). Or you could just use the artwork to prompt you. No matter how you intend to employ them, select a deck that speaks to you in some way, whose artwork inspires you and/or reflects your inner life. I favor Rider-Waite themed decks myself and change decks regularly, especially for a new story or new ideas.

There are some great websites which offer a few images of various deck to help you choose. I like Aeclectic Tarot. This site also provides some excellent resources for further exploration of the tarot.

Each standard deck has a suit of 22 Major Arcana cards representing the major themes of life, along with four suits of pips one through ten (daily situations), and face cards (personalities). You could write a scene using just one card, but I quickly found that too static. By using two cards, or even three, you open yourself to interaction—between characters, character and situation/self, character and setting, etc. You get the idea. There’s no need to interpret the cards, at least not beyond what you need to spur your own imagination. Spend a few minutes considering the images and how their themes might interact and write whatever comes to you. I find this a great exercise to shush my inner editor too.

While I stumbled on this use of tarot cards all by myself, I was hardly surprised to discover many writers employ tarot cards in their writing. One publisher I know of had a whole tarot sub-line with each book by inspired by a single card.

As writing tools go, tarot decks are relatively inexpensive. And fun. Contrary to popular belief, writing is hard work. Why not add a little play now and then? Don't fancy yourself a writer? Give it a try. You might be surprised.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here, or contact me privately through my website.

What price will destiny demand?
Warding the Crossing has always been Cayden Sinclair’s destiny. With her beloved Gran growing weaker, it’s time the little witch took her place. Juggling substantial curves for her frame and an inconvenient inability to control her power has always been a serious challenge. But not until discovering her fated Keeper is the extremely hot, tragically clean-cut insomniac who’s ignored her for months, does she truly fear failing her legacy.

Now that he’s finally on the road to the top with an offer from a big developer, Clint MacAllen can’t allow his struggling construction company to be threatened by a vicious nightmare, or his inexplicable attraction to a goth clerk working the graveyard shift at HandiMart—no matter how potent they are.
J. Milton Developments has its own agenda for Buchanan’s Crossing, and they’ll spill blood to get it.

Available now from Musa Publishing in a variety of e-book formats (including direct-to Kindle), or at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Coming soon to All Romance e-books, and other fine e-tailers.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Frightening Friday-Black-Eyed Kids

Photo courtesy of morgueFile wintersixfour
I may freak myself out with this post, because it's late at night. Imagine this scenerio. You're home by yourself and it's absolutely quiet, kind of like it is here...right now...as I'm writing this post. *checks over shoulder*
There's a knock at the door. You go to answer it. Standing on your porch, are three children. They ask in monotone voices if they can use the telephone. This would be nothing to worry about, except that they have something horribly wrong with them— their eyes. These “creatures” have no corneas or irises, just a pair of black, souless eyes.
Are you scared yet?

What’s worse is that these children are insistent that you help them. And all who claim to have encountered these creatures swear that it's been near impossible to resist the temptation to do just that, as if their voices carried some sort of hypnotic influence.

BEKs have been catagorized as demons in disguise, extra-terrestrials or hybrids, and paranormal creatures; lost souls of departed children who are trapped and wander the earthy plane. They resemble kids between the ages of six to sixteen. They show up at the doors of unsuspecting residents at night, asking to use the bathroom, make a phone call, or for something to eat.

So, what happens if you let them into your house? Something bad. And, as urban legends go, nobody seems to want to expound on that. (Although I've read that they supposedly cause death and misfortune and steal your soul) Regardless, anything involving kids and weird eye things creeps me out.

I'm off to bed now...with the lights on and a pillow over my head.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-HTML Coding for the Challenged

Lately, I've been having fun creating polls for my blog using Pollcode.com
The site is super-simple to use, and you have the option to customize the poll before the HTML code is generated for your blog. I wish all sites were this easy! In the past, I've learned to customize things myself on Blogger; templates and blog hop codes being only a few. Therefore, I thought I would share a little info on changing basic HTML coding.

What is HTML coding, you ask? HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the set of markup symbols or codes inserted in a file intended for display on a World Wide Web and...blah, blah, blah. Basically, it changes the way things look in your blog or webpage

Now, you computer people will probably roll your eyes after reading this post. You may even figure out that I don't know what the heck I'm talking about. You'd be right about that. I write books, I don't do computer programming. But if I help one person delve into the world of HTML or fix something in their blog, then my job is done.

So, let's play a little. We'll fiddle with the HTML code from PollCode, since their site is easy to use. Go to Pollcode.com and create a poll. Keep it simple, one or two answers to your poll question will do. See that little box on the side where you can customize your poll? Ignore it. We're going to play with the HTML ourselves. Once you've pressed the big blue button that says, "get Poll Code!" it will take you to a box with the HTML code to be pasted into your blog.
Cut and paste all that "stuff" into your blog post. Make sure you've selected the HTML tab when you post the code. For Blogger, it's right next to the Compose tab on the top left side.
Now, here's where we get to have fun.

It's easy to change the layout, color, font and text size of your poll. And yes, I know it looks like a cat yakked all over your screen, or at the very least, an algebraic nightmare, but trust me.
Here we go:

To change layout: look for the word width= in the first line. You will see a number after that. In this case it says "175" Try replacing that with "200" or "300" and use your Preview button to see how that changes the width of the poll box.

To change color: look for the word bgcolor= in the second line. There will be letters after that. In this case, it's EEEEEE which changes the background color of the actual poll box. Experiment. Different HTML color codes can be found on the HTML Color Picker.

To change font: look for the word font-family: or font face= After that, will be the word Verdana. You can change the font to whatever you'd like; Georgia, Arial, Times, etc.

To change font size: look for the word font-size: which is followed in this case by x-small or xx-small. Try changing that to small, medium or large.

Experiment and have fun!

Is HTML Coding Easy?
  
pollcode.com free polls 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Haunted Antiques

Last weekend, I visited an antique shop. It's something I do on occasion when I'm feeling nostalgic. I enjoy talking to the shop owners and learning the history connected with the antiques they buy from estate sales. More often than not, I end up "just looking." But there have been one or two occasions in which something has captured my attention and I have to buy it.
My husband jokes with me not to bring back anything haunted.
I do believe things can hold onto energy. There are some objects I've literally been drawn to. But there are antiques that, upon picking them up, I wouldn't take home if the shop owners paid me. Are they haunted? Maybe. One time, I picked up a large metal urn that immediately made me feel depressed and sad. When I asked the shop owner about it, she told me it was an old burial urn. I have no idea why it was for sale, nor do I know if somebody's ashes were still in it! But suffice to say, the urn would not be coming home with me that day.

Just for fun, I decided to do a search on eBay for "haunted antiques."  As of today, there are 141 items that show up in that search. Whether or not these items are truly haunted or sellers trying to cash in on the current fascination of "all things haunted" is unknown. But it makes for interesting reading.

Here's the link to ebay: haunted antiques.
Let me know if anything captures your fancy. *;) winking


Monday, February 3, 2014

#Paranormal Monday-Elves

I read a news story recently about the halting of a roadway being built in Iceland. Environmentalists said it would cut the surrounding lava field in two and destroy bird nesting sites. The locals claimed it would disturb elves living in the area. The two groups teamed up and the project has been shut down until the Supreme Court of Iceland makes a decision on whether it should proceed. While it's easy to understand the concerns of the environmentalists, it may be a little difficult for Western society to take advocates for elves seriously. However, 54% of Icelanders say that it's possible for elves, or Huldufólk, do exist.

Now, we aren't talking about elves like this (although if we were, I'd be moving to Iceland).








Or this (no comment)













But elves akin to faerie folk, or hidden people. Some elves only appear in the dreams of Icelanders. Others are physical beings; large with black hair, with a dislike for crosses, churches and electricity. Still others, are attractive and appear in a glowing white light. Some Icelandic folklore claim huldufólk are fallen angels condemned to live between heaven and hell. If you draw a parallel between this and the Western belief in angels, spirits and God, which are all essentially invisible beings, it may be easier to understand the Icelandic belief in elves.

This hasn't been the first time building projects in Iceland have been halted or altered due to elves. In 1982, 150 Icelanders went to the NATO base in Keflavík to look for "elves who might be endangered by American Phantom jets and AWACS reconnaissance planes." In 2004, Alcoa had a government expert certify that before they could build an aluminum smelter in Iceland, their chosen site was free of archaeological finds, including ones related to huldufólk folklore. Icelanders take their elves very seriously.

Almost every culture has some form of belief in faerie folk of some kind. Do you believe?

Do You Believe in Elves?
  
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