Les Temps Sont Durs…

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. Of course, you could say that of any number of weeks over the last few years, but I’m not commenting on current events. I mean that it’s been a weird couple of weeks for me.

Working through anxiety issues has brought up stuff I didn’t expect and didn’t really want to deal with. Nothing like being forced to confront demons you didn’t know you had. Hopefully, it’ll work out for the best in the long run. But in the meantime I’m a bit of an unfocused mess. I’m restless. Really restless. Although I’m accomplishing things, it doesn’t seem like much and I go to bed at night wondering what I did all day.

I’ve also  been having an unusually difficult time writing. I mean it’s “staring at a blank page all day” bad. I decided to add a scene between two characters in my WIP, and then couldn’t think of one thing to write. It’s like a loud buzzing (or worse) fills my head every time I try to think about it.

(It’s probably not helping that we have band members living a couple of doors down and they’ve taken to daily outdoor practice sessions.) Since I couldn’t focus on the scene, I decided to go back and edit something else for a while, only to not be able to focus on that, either. Yeah, it’s as fun as it sounds. I finally had a minor breakthrough last night when I realized I might have already included a scene like the one I want and then forgot about it (the perils of being a slow writer). At the same time, I also got a flash of inspiration that means I can start on the scene if it doesn’t exist, or improve it if it does. [Insert a sigh of relief here.] Sorting that out also helped me focus on my editing. I think I’ll be back on track soon, but this was the break nobody asked for.

I started this train of thought about the weirdness going on as I was contemplating my honeysuckle plant. I have honeysuckle growing in a pot outside. It’s one of the last surviving garden plants that I tried to move from my last place. If our plans had worked out, it would have been in a permanent spot in the ground a long time ago. Instead, it’s been hanging on, first as a cutting in a jar of water, and this year finally placed in a container of soil. Since the plant it came from was a gift from my mom, I really want to keep it alive until I have a garden again. Earlier this week I noticed it was about to put out flowers– for the first time in years, and despite the less-than-ideal circumstances it’s had to endure. Rejoice! Needless to say I was pretty stoked to see the plant thriving.

And then yesterday I noticed the nascent flowers were gone.

One of our local critters had a snack, leaving cleanly cut stems behind where flower buds used to be. That’s the kind of week it’s been (and really, that’s kind of 2020 in a nutshell– okay, I couldn’t resist one small comment on current events). Sometimes all you can do is hold on and wait for another chance to bloom.

How are you doing these days?

Had a week you need a break from? Download one of 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
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, 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

 

 

More Awesome Literary Embroideries

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, needlepoint, embroidery, books, bookish, reading, literary, crafts, free patterns, patterns, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

One of the things that’s been getting me through the long months of COVID isolation has been needlepoint (you can read my thoughts about my favourite craft here). Books are, of course, one of the other things. I doubt I’ve ever been so grateful to be an introvert. I’m not sure whether needle crafts have been catching on during this awful time, like baking and gardening have, but stitching is an excellent way to calm your mind while making something lasting. Another great aspect of needlepoint is that it lends itself to any subject matter. Anything from simple quotes to intricate scenes can be rendered with needle and thread, and you can really get creative with it. No surprise I’m partial to bookish designs, so I decided to share some links to patterns. If you’re already a stitcher, I hope you’ll find something you like. If you’ve never stitched before, maybe you’ll be inspired to give it a try (you don’t even need to be isolating!) Which pattern is your favourite? Share in the comments…

Perhaps this sentiment isn’t as relatable under current circumstances, but you can’t deny that Austen has a point. Free pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, jane austen, quote, quotes, home

 

Louisa May Alcott gets the credit for this somewhat negative take on book lovers. I wouldn’t change a thing, even if my brain is turned. Pattern.

 

I have a fondness for fairy tales, and Sleeping Beauty was always one of my favourites. Fairy tales tend to have an appealing aesthetic, as well– perfect for needlepoint. Have fun with this free pattern.

 

From fairy tales to something a little more adult. Cross-stitch (curse-stitch?) for when you’re really f@#*!%g into books 😉 Pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, read a fucking book, subversive cross stitch

 

A sweeter sentiment we can all get behind. Pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, books sweet books, etsy, pattern download

 

Throw out those old scraps of paper and make yourself a bookmark worthy of keeping your place. Free pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, bookmark, bookmarks, read books, free pattern

Free pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, hands off my book, bookmark, bookmarks, free pattern

 

I love this design because in one simple image it cleverly expresses my entire reality: books are my world. Pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, books are my world, etsy, pattern download

 

When you need to let people know the movie didn’t quite cut it. You can even stitch it three different ways. Pattern 1.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, the book was better, etsy, pattern download

Pattern 2.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, the book was better, etsy, pattern dowload

Pattern 3.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, the book was better, etsy, pattern download

 

Lastly, if you’re looking for more inspiration and patterns, check out these online archives of vintage embroidery books:

Embroidery

Cross-Stitch

Needlepoint

Need a break from embroidery? Download 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
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, 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

Currently Reading

currently reading, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, anxiety, phobias, panic, reneau z, peurifoy, books, book, reading, book reviews, reviews, free books

You might remember that I’ve shared some of my experiences with anxiety and phobias (here and here, for example). Although I’m not generally a fan of self-help books (which I rarely find helpful), I’ve had this one taking up shelf space for a while and thought it was time to give it a go. Maybe it’ll help (or maybe I’ll end up wishing I’d read a good novel instead).

Speaking of good novels…

(See what I did there?)

Have you read and enjoyed any of my books? If so, please take a moment to leave a rating and/or review (links below).

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

Amazon

Goodreads

Download Now

Blood Magic

Amazon

Goodreads

Download FREE

Tooth & Claw

Amazon

Goodreads

Download FREE

Feel free to leave a rating/review on any other book sites too!

(If you prefer paperback to ebook, you can 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

Visiting Provence: Carpentras

Since travelling right now is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, I’m sharing pictures of my past trip to Provence, France. Why not be inspired by where we’ve been while we dream about where we’d like to go?

In June 2015, after years of drooling over pictures and other people’s stories, I finally had the chance to visit Provence. While I was there I stayed in Carpentras, a town in the Vaucluse region of Provence with a fascinating history, a fantastic weekly marché (market), and a name that’s really difficult to pronounce if you’ve never heard it before! Why didn’t this video exist five years ago?

It’s also the centre of the truffle trade for the region (unfortunately I was there too late for truffle season). I think it would take many visits at all different times of the year to fully appreciate Carpentras. For now, here are a few shots I took during my brief time there. Enjoy…

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The sign directs drivers to the paid parking ticket dispenser. Somehow it sounds better in French.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The mountain in the background is Mt. Ventoux, known for its white peaks, which are bare rock and not snow.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Love the random plants growing on the side of the building.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, provence, france, carpentras, vaucluse, architecture, travel, travelling, french tourism, avignon, whimsy bower, history, photography, aspasiasbissas.com

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The other end of the fountain features a female head.

My favourite part of Carpentras was probably the Roman arch (located behind the Palais de Justice). Provence actually has many Romans ruins and structures (farmers still use Roman-built aqueducts to water non-edible crops like lavender!) If I ever get to go back, I’m going to take a tour of all things Roman 🙂

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The side of the arch.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, provence, france, carpentras, vaucluse, architecture, travel, travelling, french tourism, avignon, whimsy bower, history, photography, aspasiasbissas.com
Palais de Justice (back view). You can see the Roman arch at the bottom, right.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Carpentras also produces a local specialty called Berlingots:

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

They were invented by a candy maker who wanted to find a way to use the syrup left over from making candied fruit. Now Carpentras is known for them– make sure to pick some up if you ever get the chance.

What’s a favourite place you’ve visited? Share in the comments…

Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by a true story (did I mention there are also vampires?)

Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

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Note: All photos in this post (other than the one of the Berlingots) are © Aspasía S. Bissas. They were originally shared on my other blog Whimsy Bower (click to see more photos there).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

5 Dreamy Book Towns

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book lovers are dreamers. We dream of other worlds and other lives. We dream of what we just finished reading and what we’re going to read next. We dream of homes crammed with our book collections, libraries that never close, and cozy local bookshops where we can spend massive quantities of both time and money. And some book lovers dream of entire towns devoted to books and then make them a reality. Did you know there are dozens of book towns around the world (enough that one writer even wrote a book about them)? At a time when so many events have been cancelled and travel is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, dreaming is more important than ever. Here are five book towns to dream about (and where one day, hopefully, you’ll be able to live your dreams).

Have you been to any book towns? Which are your favourites? Share in the comments…

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Probably the best known of all the book towns, and credited with inventing the concept, Hay-on-Wye is home to numerous book and antiques shops. It hosts the Hay Festival, a literary event that (normally) travels to other cities throughout the year (click the link to watch this year’s events online). There’s also a castle.

St. Pierre de Clages, Switzerland

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A Medieval village, St. Pierre de Clages is Switzerland’s only book town. The town specializes in antiquarian booksellers, but that’s not all you’ll find there. They also host an annual book festival that’s described as a must for “book lovers, amateur readers, history buffs or fans of comic books.” (No word on what’s happening with the festival in 2020, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s cancelled.)

Featherston, New Zealand

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

One of the newer book towns, Featherston has already established itself as a place for book lovers. Its annual Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival, usually held in May, was postponed, but a Words in Winter event is currently taking place until August– key features include author talks and book signings.

Hobart, USA

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Located in the Catskills (New York), Hobart was essentially a ghost town not too long ago. Now it’s a dedicated book town with stores featuring books on topics ranging from American history and feminism to vintage cookbooks and craft books. Massive book sales are held on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, and Hobart also hosts their Festival of Women Writers (currently postponed but there may be virtual events).

Sidney, Canada

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Sidney is Canada’s only book town, as far as I can tell (something they’ve apparently been claiming since the 1990s). Located on beautiful Vancouver Island, Sidney bookstores include new, used, and antiquarian books on everything from military history to classic children’s fiction. There’s a special focus on local authors and culture, and many stores hold regular events. Most books are in English, but you can also find a good selection of Japanese and Chinese titles. There’s also the annual Sidney LitFest (returning in 2021).

These are just a few of the dozens of book towns that exist around the world (although most seem to be in Europe, hopefully this concept will catch on). You can find out about more book towns here and here.

Aspasía S. Bissas book covers png
If you’re looking for something to read until you can get to the nearest book town, download my books FREE…

Love Lies Bleeding: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
Blood Magic: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
Tooth & Claw: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, 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