Literary Perfumes

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A while back I read an article about the connection between literature and perfume, which also included suggestions for ideal perfumes for book lovers. As someone who has a slight perfume obsession (reigning favourite: Vanilla Extreme by Comptoir Sud Pacifique), I was intrigued. I especially liked the idea behind the Imaginary Authors perfume company, whose scents are based on the fictional exploits of made-up authors. But if perfume can be designed for fictional authors, why not design a few for Love Lies Bleeding’s characters?

Since main character Mara works with herbs and plants, she’s essentially steeped in their scents without needing to wear perfume. But if I were to create a perfume for her, it would have strong notes of sweet woodruff (which smells like vanilla and hay), clover, and lavender flowers, with hints of smoky peat and black tea.

For human Lee, I envision something fresh and “green.” His scent would be based on cedar, with some kind of complementary citrus (yuzu, or maybe tangerine), and the subtlest undertones of honey and lavender leaves.

Lastly, I think a scent heavy on whisky and tobacco notes, with something spicy like ginger or cloves, would suit vampire nemesis Dominic. It would be the kind of scent that’s overwhelming in the wrong hands, but Dominic probably wouldn’t wear it anyway, as it’s one of those luxuries he doesn’t think vampires should indulge in.

What do you think– would you wear any of these scents? What perfume would you design for your favourite character or author? Share in the comments…

Want to find out more about Mara, Lee, and Dominic? Get my books!

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

A Few Problems with TV’s “Supernatural”

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Spoilers Ahead

I’m not exactly a fan of Supernatural, the long-running (and recently concluded) series featuring the monster-hunting Winchester brothers (Sam and Dean) and associates. I am, however, a fan of several of the characters, which is why I’ve stuck with the show. I’m currently re-watching older seasons in anticipation of catching up on the last couple I haven’t seen yet, including the series finale.

The thing is, no matter how much I try (and I have tried), I just can’t pretend this show doesn’t bother me on numerous levels. I’m not trying to ruin anything for the fans out there (who I’m sure far outnumber detractors like me), but someone needs to say it. Supernatural has problems. Here’s four of them.

  1. “Librarians”

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In season 8 Supernatural introduced the “Men of Letters,” a secret society that, among other things, made a point of amassing and preserving vast stores of occult and magical knowledge. Sounds pretty cool, right? You’d think so, but apparently the show’s writers disagree, as multiple characters repeatedly refer to the Men of Letters as “librarians.” And it’s never a compliment.

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First of all, fiction is full of librarians who could hold their own in the Supernatural universe. Secondly, the show itself establishes that the Men of Letters were also men of action– they just put a little more thought into their actions than the Winchesters and their fellow “hunters” tend to. More importantly, though, is that real-life librarians deserve better than this kind of casual derision. Yes, they spend an inordinate amount of time with books (not sure why that’s a bad thing), but they also help people and improve lives on a daily basis (here’s a story from last year as just one example). Librarian as an insult? You’re only showing your own ignorance.

2. Mary Shelley Didn’t Create Frankenstein

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Season 10 brought us the ill-conceived Styne family, an ancient clan into all kinds of evil, including murder, Nazism, and really poorly stitched body modification (seriously, this is your thing– learn how to sew). But– big reveal– it turns out the family’s name was originally… Frankenstein (groan), and that their family friend Mary Shelley, after spending a few days at their estate and seeing what they were up to, wrote her book to try to warn the world. In other words, Frankenstein isn’t a work of Shelley’s vibrant imagination (and one of, if not the, first works of science fiction), but rather non-fiction based on something she witnessed.

Seeing as how women writers throughout history have been consistently ignored, suppressed, forgotten, and denied credit, for Supernatural to come along and discount the achievement of one of the few who did receive her due… let’s just say that Supernatural owes Mary Shelley a huge apology.

3. The Writers vs. Castiel

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Introducing angels to the show is generally acknowledged as being one of Supernatural’s smarter moves. Castiel especially turned out to be a great character, with some decent development over the seasons. Unfortunately, the writers backed themselves into a corner with angels. Debuted as incredibly powerful beings who can destroy a human just by existing in their natural state, the writers subsequently were forced to find ways to make angels far weaker than they started out. As the Winchesters’ protector/friend Castiel gets the brunt of this– the writers spend the rest of the series finding excuses to take away his power. Poor Cas loses his mind, gets stuck in purgatory, is put under the control of another angel, and even becomes human, among other things. Even when he is at full strength, the writers ignore the extent of his abilities, inexplicably render them useless (“I can usually heal anything, but not this…”), or simply pretend he doesn’t exist. He can be summoned by phone or by prayer, yet he often “isn’t answering,” or more often, the Winchesters don’t bother calling. There are so many times when Cas could easily have dispatched demonic enemies or fixed an unfortunate situation (like, say, bringing Charlie back to life), but it’s inconvenient to the story, so he’s nowhere to be seen. What all this amounts to is a lot of poor and/or lazy writing that ultimately lowers the quality of the show. F for effort, guys.

4. Sucky Vampires

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Vampires aren’t the focus of Supernatural, and it’s a good thing because the ones on this show are awful. From the hideous rows of fangs to their bland personalities, I have to wonder why the show bothered including vampires at all. Mercedes McNab, who brilliantly played student-turned-vampire Harmony on Buffy and Angel, shows up as a vampire in one season 3 episode of Supernatural. Her character mostly spouts exposition and whines about being hungry before Dean finally beheads her. Other vampires throughout the series are similarly unremarkable (although there was one storyline that had potential, about vampires taking advantage of the Twilight craze, but it ultimately missed the mark). Even Benny, who befriends Dean in season 8 and actually gets a story arc, serves mostly as a source of tension between Sam and Dean. Not every vampire is going to be a Dracula or a Spike, but it takes some skill to make all of yours forgettable.

There are other problems with Supernatural (like Sam and Dean’s casual willingness to murder innocent people just because they’re possessed– remember when they used to at least try an exorcism first?), but I’ll leave it here. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Share in the comments…

Want to read something that’s all about the vampires? Get my books!

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

10 Inspiring Attic Libraries

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I’ve never had a proper attic anywhere I lived, the kind where it’s a large, open space with a high, sloping ceiling and at least one window (in newer buildings “attics” tend to be windowless crawlspaces full of insulation). But I was always fascinated by these spaces. The ones I’d see on TV always seemed mysterious, full of treasures (and dust), maybe a little creepy. I didn’t really start coveting an attic of my own until I realized they could be renovated. The potential seems unlimited for these private bonus spaces, something these attic owners clearly got.  Here are some of my favourite attic libraries, as found around the internet….

  1. I love the floor, as well as the shelves reaching the ceiling. It also looks like there’s plenty of good light for settling in with one of those books.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

2. With stained glass windows and a cozy place to sit, I can picture myself here with a good book and a cup of tea.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

3. This goes to show that no space is too small to turn into something great. As long as you can fit a comfy chair, a bookcase, and some lighting, you have a library.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

4. Though it’s a little dark, I love this attic library. It looks like a room you could happily live in (or at least, I could).

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

5.  Lots of good light, piles of books, cushy floor pillows, and a cup of coffee or tea. What’s not to love?

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

6. Not as many books as there could be, but this is a cozy, elegant library. The ladder is a nice touch too.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

7. This is such a fun, bright space. There’s also good lighting, an excellent choice of seating, ample shelves, and a chandelier. When can I move in?

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

8. This looks like a nice room in which to sit, read, and ignore the world. The window over the couch must offer some great lighting too. I’d love to be here on a rainy day.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

9. I wish I could have found a better photo because I love this library. The red walls, the woodwork, and the Gothic-arch-esque shape around the window give it a Harry Potter feel. I imagine this is what a castle attic would be like.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

10. If I’d had this library during the pandemic, I think lockdown would have been a lot more pleasant. Even without a pandemic, I think it would take a lot to get me to ever leave.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

Bonus Library: Apparently this is a still from the movie Knives Out. I haven’t seen it, but kudos to the set designer– this is probably the perfect attic library. Books, art, cozy seating, great architecture, and a desk and computer.  This is the room library lovers’ dreams are made of.

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Which attic library was your favourite? Are you lucky enough to have one of your own? Share in the comments…

Looking for something to read in your (real or imagined) attic library? I’ve got you covered…

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Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

10 Things I Learned in 2020

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Finally– the year that we all wish had never happened is over! If you were lucky enough not to suffer the full brunt of 2020, you’re still probably feeling that the entire year was a waste. And in so many ways, it was– wasted time, wasted opportunities. It’s been frustrating, to say the least. The one thing 2020 did offer us, though, was a chance for introspection and reflection. I’m sure we’re all coming out of this a little wiser than we were at this time last year. Here’s what I learned in 2020…

1. People Are Awful

Call me naive, but I always believed that in a disaster, people would pull together and help one another. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. But the first thing that 2020 taught me is that some people are truly selfish. They scream about their rights or pretend they don’t understand what’s happening, while blithely spreading a deadly and debilitating disease wherever they go. I don’t think I’m the only one whose faith in humanity took a hit in 2020.

2. People Are Awesome

Luckily, most people aren’t selfish twits, and many are truly amazing. Those in the medical and care fields working around the clock to help the sick and dying. Those who have kept working under trying and dangerous circumstances so that supply chains aren’t disrupted and the rest of us can still eat and get the things we need. Those who stay home, even when they really, really, really want to get out of the house. Leaders who are actually leading and keeping people as safe as possible. Thanks to all of you ♥

3. How to Be Resourceful

When some things were in short supply or unavailable last year, I found ways to manage, either by making do or doing without. If I couldn’t get help when I needed it, I worked around it or figured out how to do it myself. Going forward, I’ll be embracing more of an attitude of resourcefulness, because you never know when you won’t have a choice about it.

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4. I’m More Competent than I Think

Having to be more resourceful, having to endure difficult circumstances, having to rely on myself more than I ever have– all of this has shown me that I can do more than I  thought possible. I need to remember this lesson.

5. Clarity

This past year has given me time to figure out what I’d like my life to look like going forward. I might not be able to do all of it, but I know what to work towards and what to let fall away. Having a clear direction is something I didn’t realize I needed.

6. There’s No Limit to Learning

When I decided to take French (and later Greek) lessons using an app, I approached them with a bit of trepidation. Learning a language is easy in childhood, but not so much in adulthood (at least, that’s the popular opinion). Maybe it helped that I already had a start in both languages (eventually I hope to try learning a language I don’t know anything about). The lessons have been fantastic, not only because I’m learning a lot, but also for my mental health. They keep me busy with something that’s actually useful. If there’s anything you’ve been wanting to learn, I highly recommend going for it.

7. Introverts Need People Too

I’m about as introverted as they come, which has been helpful in getting through lockdowns and avoiding crowded places. But even I miss people. I miss my family and friends, and I miss the places people gather, especially museums, coffee shops, the zoo, the mall (memories of a misspent youth), and just generally seeing people without worrying about whether they’re merely clearing their throat or are hacking up deadly germs. For someone who used to dream of the hermit life, actually living it has shown me that I need to socialize sometimes. Who knew?

8. Keep a distance

I don’t mean physical distance, which I’ve also learned to do and is important for other reasons. I’m talking about a mental/emotional distance. I’ve learned not to rely on external factors because they aren’t reliable. I don’t know if this is cynical, or if it’s something everyone else already knew and I’m just late in figuring out, but I’ve had some major disappointments this last year, and I’d like to avoid more of the same in future.

9. I Have Value

It turns out there are a lot of people in the world who can’t wait to tell you how little you matter (a lot of them are the same people I mentioned in my first point). They’re wrong. I have value just by existing, and so do you. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

10. There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel

…even if it’s faint and sometimes flickers.

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What did you  learn in 2020? Share in the comments…

Looking to start 2021 with a good read? I’ve got you covered…

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Book Tag: This or That

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The month is going by fast, hurtling us toward the end– finally– of what has felt like a trash fire of a year. As I write this, Toronto is under lockdown (again) as COVID cases all over continue to spike. Gatherings of all kinds are on hiatus, probably until well into next year. Even with the vaccine (thankfully now starting to be distributed), life isn’t going to resemble anything like normal anytime soon  (special shout-out to all the people who could have done something to slow, or even stop, the spread of this disease and instead chose– and continue to choose– to do absolutely nothing).

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Deep (masked) breaths.

Let’s take our minds off less-pleasant things with a book tag, shall we? Because when an entire year is cancelled, there’s still books…

(“This or That” tag nabbed from Bookmark Your Thoughts. Stop by to give her a like and follow.)

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Read on the bed or couch?

On the couch. It’s easier to get comfy, and handier for drinks and snacks.

Read at night or in the morning?

Right now I’m reading mostly at night because I’m working on my language lessons in the morning. If I could, though, I’d read all the time.

Male main character or female main character?

I love me a good character, no matter what gender. (Same goes for real people, now that you mention it.) I have found that some authors are better at bringing out the humanity in their characters than others, though, particularly when it comes to female characters.

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First person POV or third person POV

First person can work really well with the right character, but it can also be intolerable with the wrong one, so generally speaking, third person POV is the better bet. Third person is also less limiting, allowing readers to connect with other characters besides the main one.

Trilogies or quartets

Some stories can be told in just one book, some need ten (or more) to fully cover everything. Much as I’d like endless books in a really enjoyable series, I’ll settle for whatever number it takes to tell the tale right. (That being said, breaking stories into three parts has a long history and has a more natural flow than four parts, so I’d choose a trilogy over a quartet.)

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Libraries or bookstores

Bookstores are great for browsing, but nothing beats the peaceful atmosphere of a library. I think libraries have a slight edge over stores (although Bookmark Your Thoughts made the excellent point that bookstores let you buy all the books so you can make your own library at home…)

Books that make you laugh or cry

Cry. I surprised even myself with this choice, but it’s a rare occurrence and a great catharsis when it does happen.

Character Driven or Plot Driven

Character driven! I can’t think of a plot that’s ever been so compelling that it makes up for poorly written characters. As a reader the best way to connect to a story is through the characters.

Black book covers or white book covers

Black covers. For some reason they really speak to me 😉 …

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

 

What do you think– character driven or plot driven? Libraries or bookstores? And what kind of covers do you like? Share in the comments (and don’t forget to leave a link if you end up posting this tag on your blog)…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas