Flowers for Isolation

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca

The week started out so well.

Or maybe I should say last week ended well. This week was a nightmare.

Last Saturday my SO and I got the first of our AstraZeneca COVID vaccines! What a relief that was– the first bit of light at the end of a long, long tunnel. I had very mild side effects that didn’t last long. He didn’t have any side effects. We’re looking forward to our second doses.

I think it was Monday that I found out my entire family had either tested positive for COVID, or was exposed to it. Let me tell you, it’s a special kind of feeling of isolation to hear that nearly all the people you care about in the world have contracted or might contract a deadly and debilitating illness. I don’t recommend it. And my family aren’t covidiots, by any means; it was a real shock to hear the news.

But speaking of the people you care about in the world, on Wednesday my SO was hit with a non-COVID health issue. Because those haven’t taken a pause during the pandemic. And we then discovered the fun of trying to get medical care during a lockdown (he managed to connect with a doctor and avoid a trip to the ER, thankfully).

So, things have been stressful lately. In light of that I decided to share some pictures I’ve taken of spring flowers, because flowers make me feel better. If you’ve also had a rough week, maybe they’ll make you feel better too…

Cherry Blossoms

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca

Magnolia

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca

Daffodils

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Photo by Maria Tyutina on Pexels.com (I didn’t take this one but I’m using it because my photos are too disorganized for me to find all the daffodil photos I did take!)

What makes you feel better when things haven’t been going your way? Share in the comments.

Studies have shown that books fight stress. Download some stress relief today:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

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

If you prefer paperback, 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! ♥

Stay safe and happy May 1st,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Cover Story

Cover Story: Love Lies Bleeding, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com (dark fantasy, photography, Paris, France, art)
Photo by Aspasia S. Bissas

Some of you might recognize the above image from the cover of Love Lies Bleeding:

book, books, fiction, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, paranormal, supernatural, horror, romance,, aspasiasbissas.com

The picture is of the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) in Paris. The fountain was built in 1630, eventually falling into disrepair before being restored in 1811. The figures are the mythical lovers Acis, a mortal, and the nereid Galatia. Above them is the giant Polyphemus:

Cover Story: Love Lies Bleeding, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com (dark fantasy, vampires, Paris, France, mythology, art, photography)
Photo by Aspasia S. Bissas

He’s on the back cover of Love Lies Bleeding. I thought the statues suited the book’s characters, particularly how Acis is staring at Galatia’s neck (echoing vampire Mara and mortal Lee), while a menacing figure looms over them. What do you think– were these photos a good choice? Let me know in the comments.

Find out if the covers suit the books– download them now…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

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

It’s also Independent Bookstore Day today! 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

Vampire’s Garden: Hawthorn

Vampire's Garden: Vampire-Repelling Plants, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is eleventh in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.

Botanical Name: Crataegus monogyna (and other species of Crataegus)

Common Names: thornapple, May tree, whitethorn, hawberry, mayhaw, fairy thorn, quickthorn, Bread and Cheese Tree

History: Native to temperate areas around the world, hawthorn is part of the Rosaceae (Rose) family (you can see the resemblance in the berries, which are similar looking to rosehips). Folklore about Hawthorn abounds, and these are only a few examples: In Ancient Greece, branches decorated altars of Hymenaios (God of marriage), and were carried during wedding processions. It is believed that Jesus’ crown of thorns was made of hawthorn (in parts of France it was claimed that the plant would groan and cry on Good Friday). The Celts thought it could heal a broken heart. Before the calendar was changed from the Julian to the Gregorian system, hawthorn bloomed on 1 May, and May Day/Beltane celebrations included gathering the flowering branches (the only time it was allowed). In Great Britain and Ireland it was believed that uprooting or cutting down a hawthorn brought bad luck (with some attributing the failure of the DeLorean Motor Company to their cutting down a hawthorn in order to build a factory). Hawthorns have strong associations with fairies, and lone trees were thought to be especially powerful and most beloved of the fair folk.

Vampires: Starting in Serbia and spreading throughout the Balkan region, it was believed that only stakes made of hawthorn or ash could kill a vampire. In Bosnia, people would wear hawthorn twigs to funerals, dropping them as they left the cemetery; if the deceased rose as a vampire, they would have to stop to pick up the twigs, allowing the living to return home safely. The thorns were also placed in a recently deceased person’s clothing to “pin” them to the coffin and keep them from rising.

Language of Flowers Meaning: Hope

Cultivation: There’s a hawthorn for almost any hardiness zone, from Zones 4 to 11 according to the USDA, and as far north as Zone 1 (just below the tundra) in Canada. Hawthorn will grow in full sun or part shade. They’ll tolerate most types of soil, although they prefer rich, well-drained soil. They’re also drought tolerant. Growing hawthorn from seed is difficult and time-consuming– it’s easier to transplant a sucker or seedling. It’s possible to graft one type of hawthorn onto the seedling of another type. You can also use hawthorn as rootstock to graft other plants, mainly medlar and pear. Flowers generally bloom from May to June. Hawthorn is used as a hedge plant and as ornamentals– just be mindful of the thorns. Once established, hawthorns need little attention, other than fertilizer in spring, and some water during prolonged dry periods. It is also resistant to road salt and air pollution, making it ideal for urban areas.

Uses:

Medicinal: The flowers, leaves, and berries of Crataegus laevigata and other species have been used since the first century CE to treat heart disease. Science is starting to back up hawthorn’s use for treating a variety of cardiovascular issues, although more studies need to be done to confirm results and determine things like dosage. The dried fruits of Chinese (C. pinnatifida, shān zhā in Chinese) and Japanese (C. cuneata, called sanzashi in Japanese) hawthorn species are used in traditional medicine as a digestive aid.

Caution: Taking too much hawthorn can cause cardiac arrhythmia and low blood pressure. Some people may also experience headache, a racing heart, and nausea. Do not use if you are taking digoxin. It’s best to be safe and avoid hawthorn if pregnant or breast feeding.

Culinary: The “haws” (berries) can be used to make jam, jelly, sauces, or wine (although since they’re an important winter food for wildlife, you might prefer to leave them on the plants. The young spring leaves and flower buds can also be eaten cooked or raw. In Mexico, the fruit of a local hawthorn species is made into candy called rielitos.

Wildlife: Hawthorn is a source of food and shelter (especially in winter) for birds and mammals, as well as an important source of nectar for insects. It also provides food for the larvae of many butterflies and moths.

Bonsai: Many species of hawthorn can be used for bonsai, including common hawthorn (C. monogyna), Japanese hawthorn (C. cuneata), thornless hawthorn (C. nitida), and ornamental varieties like Crataegus lavigata ‘Paul’s scarlet’.

Other Uses: First Nations people of Western Canada used the thorns as fish hooks and for minor surgeries.

Mara’s Uses: Although Mara would likely use hawthorn in tonics for her clients, its traditional use against vampires might leave her a little reluctant.

Further Reading:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, 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 paperback, 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! ♥

Wikipedia: Crataegus

Vampires: Hawthorn

Six Ways to Stop a Vampire

WebMD

Mt. Sinai

How to Grow Hawthorns

Hardy Fruit Tree- Hawthorn

Gardening 101: Hawthorn

Hawthorn- a Foraging Guide

Hawthorn- bride of the hedgerow

Hawthorn- Tree of the Wee Folk

Hawthorn as Bonsai

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Literary Perfumes

Literary perfume, blog post, perfumes, aspasia s. bissas, scents, herbs, flowers, imaginary authors, love lies bleeding, blood magic, tooth & claw, vampire, vampires, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

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

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! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

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