Happy Fourth of July!

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Photo by john paul tyrone fernandez on Pexels.com

Wishing all my friends to the south a happy Independence Day!

Are you looking for good books to help appreciate the day? Here’s Goodreads’s list of Best Non-Fiction American History Books. Or check out Bustle’s list of books to help you understand the United States’s complicated history, or The Odd Historian’s 10 Best Books for American History Buffs. Happy reading 🙂

Dracula!

Happy World Dracula Day! Today we celebrate the anniversary of the first publication of Bram Stoker’s vampire standard Dracula. And how better to celebrate than by sharing some of my favourite versions of the classic character?

I have to start with the original, Stoker’s Count. Although Stoker wasn’t the first to write about vampires, his character (and book) started an ongoing obsession with vampires, inspiring countless variations over the decades, including dozens of versions of Dracula alone. Many of what we now consider essential characteristics of vampires: aversion to sunlight and garlic, lack of reflection, supernatural powers, vulnerable to a stake through the heart–all came from Dracula. A few have been discarded over the years too–how many modern vampires have hairy palms or need to keep the soil of their homeland handy? If you’re a vampire fan and you haven’t read Dracula yet–drop everything and get yourself a copy.

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Nosferatu is an early, unauthorized, movie based on Dracula. The names were changed (Dracula became Count Orlok, for example) but that wasn’t enough to keep Stoker’s widow from suing (and eventually giving up after the film company went bankrupt and copies of the movie got out anyway). You can’t beat Nosferatu, or Max Schreck’s Count, for atmosphere, dramatic visuals, and general creepiness.

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Count Orlok, Nosferatu

Although Bela Lugosi may be the definitive Count Dracula (and no one is disputing that he did a great job), but Christopher Lee gets my vote for best film Dracula. Imposing and intense, it’s hard not to agree that Lee is pretty awesome in this role (I’m not sure he really needs hypnotic powers–he’d do fine all on his own).

I have to admit I’m not a fan of Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (an inaccurate title, by the way), but I do enjoy Gary Oldman’s performance in it. He seems to embrace the character, especially when he surreptitiously licks Harker’s bloody razor, which is my favourite moment of the entire film:

Here’s the entire scene if you want some context:

One of my absolute favourite portrayals of Dracula is in Buffy in the episode “Buffy vs. Dracula.” It’s a great episode overall (who doesn’t love Xander as Renfield?) and Rudolf Martin does a fantastic job as Dracula. Aside from the show, Dracula makes an appearance in several Buffyverse comic books (scroll down to Appearances for the full list). It’s well worth tracking them down (if for no other reason than to find out whether Spike ever gets the eleven pounds Dracula owes him).

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And lastly (on what is by no means a comprehensive list), what’s not to like about Community’s Troy attempting to put together a cool Halloween costume by becoming a “sexy Dracula”? 😉

What’s your favourite version of Dracula? Share in the comments, and have a bloody good World Dracula Day!

Why You Need to Read Books

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I always find it strange that people need to be convinced to read. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. For me, books have always been magic, gateways to other worlds, other lives. They’re adventures and dreams, knowledge and potential, all packed into conveniently portable packages. Forget apps–no matter what you want or need at any given moment in life, there’s a book for it. How could anyone not instantly see the value in that?

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And yet… According to the Pew Research Center, 26% of American adults have admitted to not reading even part of a book in the last year (and I’m sure the numbers are similar in Canada). Clearly a lot of people don’t realize they’re missing out.

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If magic, knowledge, and adventure aren’t enough to get you interested, maybe I should also mention that:

Yale researchers found that people who read books for 30 minutes a day live longer than those who read magazines or who don’t read at all.

(This reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode where someone was reading a book in parts to their elderly relative, always leaving the story on a cliffhanger to keep the person hanging on well beyond a normal lifespan. #goals)

Successful people read (and they share some of their favourite books here).

People who read short stories are more open-minded and creative, according to a University of Toronto study.

Need a short story to get you started? How about “Blood Magic,” available free here, and at other online booksellers!

BLOOD MAGIC by Aspasia S. Bissas

You can read more about the benefits of reading books here, or you can just pick up a book and find out for yourself.

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Today is also World Book and Copyright Day! It’s the perfect day to start a reading habit or to encourage others to start one. How will you be celebrating? Share in the comments.

Lastly, the Copyright Act is under review in Canada. The current Act has allowed copying of copyrighted works to the extent that Canadian creators and publishers have had their royalties decline by 80% since 2012. I urge everyone to read more about it here, and to show your support for Canadian writers and creators (like me) by sharing the message on social media using the following hashtags: #IValueCdnStories #CreativeCanada #ValueGap #INDU #cdnpoli #WBCD2018 #worldbookday2018 #worldbookandcopyrightday

Revealed!

I’m happy to finally reveal the cover and details for my upcoming short story “Blood Magic.” You don’t need to have read my novel Love Lies Bleeding to enjoy “Blood Magic,” but for those of you who have (thanks!) it’s set within Love Lies Bleeding, and features a side adventure for Mara.

The Big Reveal:

BLOOD MAGIC by Aspasia S. Bissas

No one said magic was pretty. It tricks and it transforms. It tests you. Sometimes it punishes the wicked and sometimes it devours the innocent. And it is never boring.”

“Blood Magic” a new FREE short story by Aspasía S. Bissas. Available mid-April 2018.

What do you think? For those of you keeping track, the image was taken at the Louvre in Paris.

If you’d like to be notified when “Blood Magic” is available, please click on the “Sign Me Up” button on the top right of this page; otherwise, keep checking back here or on my Facebook Page for news.