16 Butterflies (and a Turtle)

As we head into the holiday season, I thought I’d share some favourite posts from the past. This was originally posted on 12 February, 2o18…

Recently I paid a visit to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory (Ontario, Canada) and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the perfect respite from the freezing weather, it was a magical experience being surrounded by butterflies (many more than 16). I highly recommend it. I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took…

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Basking in the sunshine

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You’d never guess what this butterfly looks like with its wings open….

Continue reading “16 Butterflies (and a Turtle)”

Weird Habits of Writers

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I recently read an article about 11 weird habits that all writers can relate to, and I’ve got to say they weren’t wrong. Dramatically staring into space while thinking about what my characters will do next? Check. Ending up on security watch lists thanks to my online research? Check. Losing track of time, dates, and reality itself thanks to working from home immersed in a fantasy world of my own creation? Check check.

Reading the list got me thinking about my own odd habits, which I’ve decided to share. After all, as the article pointed out, writers spend a lot of time alone–why not take a moment to bond over our mutual strangeness?

My Weird Habits as a Writer:

Seeking Out Mindless Activities so I Can Think: When my hands are busy but my mind is free to wander, that’s when I come up with some of my best ideas, solve problems with my stories, or mentally write entire passages (my phone is handy–and more likely to be nearby than pen and paper–for getting it all down before I inevitably forget). Mindless activities I recommend: weeding the garden, easy crafts, cleaning the house, ironing…

Telling Myself Stories to Help Me Fall Asleep: I’ve had trouble sleeping my entire life–the one thing that’s almost guaranteed to get me to sleep is telling myself a story in bed. It’s been the same story for a while now, with minor variations. Strangely enough this repetitive storytime actually does help with my writing. Every so often I’ll get an idea for a new character, or notice themes I should explore.

Watching (a lot of) TV: Sometimes it’s background noise that works a lot like any other mindless activity (see above). Sometimes it’s inspiring, giving me ideas to consider. Sometimes it’s instructive, helping me with pacing, or seeing aspects to storytelling that do or don’t work. Sometimes it’s just entertaining, which is also important.

I’ll leave it there, although there are more (so many more). What weird habits do you have as a writer (or in general)? Share your weirdness…

(Note: This is a re-post from 19 February 2018. If you’re looking for something new to read, how about my free short story “Blood Magic”https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/816146 or my novel Love Lies Bleeding, available in paperback and e-book at most online booksellers.)

Your Inner Critic Is a Liar

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Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

To be a writer is to be in a constant state of worry. Will anyone be interested in my work? Will they like it? What if they don’t like it? The worst is when the worry morphs into criticism and you doubt your own validity as a writer: my book isn’t good, no one will ever read it, I should just quit now. Sometimes it seems as though your inner demons take up as much space in your head as your stories and characters.

I recently read an interesting article on how to mindfully address your inner critic. The author offers some good suggestions, such as waiting the emotions out (they will pass) or agreeing with your inner critic and going forward anyway (for example, you’d say something like: “I should just quit now…and I will go ahead and write another paragraph.”

I often use the agreement technique, only I follow up with “but” instead of “and.” The article says not to use “but” because you’re supposed to be agreeing with the critic, not challenging it. But (see what I did there?) I guess I’m the challenging type because it makes more sense to me, is more reassuring, and, therefore, is more effective. My agreement statement would be more along the lines of : “I should quit now…but what else am I going to do with my life?” Even more challenging is when I go with the ‘agree but don’t care’ method (AKA the stubbornness approach). When I’m in this mood I’ll say something like: “I should just quit now but I like what I’m doing, so who cares what anyone else thinks–I’m going to do it anyway.”

However you deal with your worries or inner critic, the most important thing is to remember that they are liars. Unless you have legit psychic powers (if you do, I have a question about the lottery numbers…), you really don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Just because you don’t see how things could possibly work out doesn’t mean they won’t. Life is funny that way. So go ahead and ignore your inner critic, or tell them off, or sit and have a polite conversation with them–whatever you need to do. As long as you don’t listen to them.

How do you deal with your inner critic? Share in the comments.

And while you’re here, make sure to download my free short story Blood Magic. Myth and magic collide in this story about choices, transformation, and retribution: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/816146

 

Amazon Prime and Eden Mills

It’s Amazon Prime day, which means it’s the perfect time for Prime members to get the 5-star book one critic called “abominably good”: Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas

I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on 9 September.

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Stop by and get a copy of Love Lies Bleeding, and get your copy signed too! Hope to see you there…

Wordy: Words About Vampires

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As a writer, I love words. As a vampire fan, I write about vampires. It seems natural to combine it all into one post: I bring you words about vampires 🙂

Sanguisuge (n) is a new word to me. It means bloodsucker, or leech. From Latin sanguisuga, from sanguis (blood) + sugere (to suck). Wikionary says it’s obsolete but I think it’s due for a comeback.

Related: “Sanguisugent,” (adj) blood sucking or blood thirsty.

 

revenant

 

You may have heard vampires occasionally referred to as revenants. The word was coined in 1814 by Laetitia Matilda Hawkins in Rosanne:

“‘Well, but what is it? What do you call it in French?’ ‘Why, revenant, to be sure. Un revenant.'” (p. 260)

 

lamia

From from Greek lamia “female vampire, man-eating monster,” literally “swallower, lecher,” from laimos “throat, gullet.” (Source).

“Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.”  -John Keats, “Lamia”

undead
1. (adj)  no longer alive but animated by a supernatural force, as a vampire or zombie.
2. (n) undead beings collectively (usually preceded by the)  (Source)
The first use of “undead” was c. 1400, but its use as a noun to mean vampires and other creatures dates from 1904. (Source)
“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.” -Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites
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Exsanguinate is one of those words I just really like. I first heard it on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it stuck with me. Exsanguinate is a verb meaning to bleed to death. It can also mean to drain blood or make bloodless, and it was first used around 1800, coming from the Latin exsanguinatus meaning bloodless or deprived of blood (Source).
“My first word for the new year was ‘exsanguinate,’ This was probably not a good omen.” -Charlaine Harris, Dead to the World
And of course, we can’t forget the word that all the others relate to:
vampire

 

The earliest form of the word “vampire” goes back to only 1734, although stories of monsters that rise from the dead and attack the living can be found even in ancient times. The idea of blood-gorged walking corpses goes back at least to the 1100s. There’s some debate as to where the word comes from, but it most likely has its roots in the Old Church Slavonic “opiri”.  (Source)

“It was too much, the weight of it all was too much. Maybe that was why emotions were deadened in vampires; the alternative was to be overtaken by them, crippled, left stranded and isolated and trapped by unbearable sensation. How could they hunt if they felt sympathy, empathy, love for their prey? How could they—how could she—live with themselves?” Aspasía S. Bissas, Love Lies Bleeding

Yes, that’s a quote from my own book (I’m sneaky that way). You can find out more about Love Lies Bleeding, including where to get it, here. And if you want even more vampires, don’t forget to download my FREE story Blood Magic: get it here.

Did I miss your favourite word about vampires? Let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in words, you can also read my post on words about books.