Cover Reveal: Go!

The moment has finally arrived to share the cover of my new (FREE) short story, Tooth & Claw

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

What do you think?

The title comes from the Tennyson poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.”:

Who trusted God was love indeed

And love Creation’s final law

Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw,

With ravine, shriek’d against his creed

“Red in tooth and claw” indeed. I think both the cover image and title suit the story–I hope you’ll agree once you’ve read it. Tooth & Claw will be released on 7 September. Here’s a teaser:

Mara, Dominic, and their fellow vampires arrive in Marseille, France in 1909, only to find another predator already on the loose. As the city tries to cope with a killer stalking the streets, Mara struggles to separate memory from delusion. Can she find peace when the past is haunting, the present overwhelming, and the future hopeless? Inspired by real events.
Although I promised you’d be able to pre-order Tooth & Claw, it turns out free books can’t be set up for pre-order (boo). But not to worry, I will be posting again to let you know when Tooth & Claw is available. If you’d like an email reminder, please drop me a line.
In the meantime, don’t forget to download my other FREE short story Blood Magic, and while you’re at it, pick up Love Lies Bleeding too, available in paperback or e-book. Your support is much appreciated.

Tooth & Claw, a new FREE short story inspired by actual events, available 7 September.

Cheers,
Aspasía S. Bissas

 

 

Where to Find Me Online

where to find me online

A quick update today to let people know where they can find me online. I post different things on different sites, so feel free to follow me in as many places as you like. See you around…

AspasiaSBissas.com: My website is the best place to find info about me and my books, news, reviews, events, posts, and random fun bits. You can also subscribe to my posts or sign up for occasional email updates.

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

LinkedIn

Pinterest

Tumblr

You can also find info about my books here, including where they’re sold.

 

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, You Can Still Cope with Summer

how to beat summer heat
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Toronto is going through its usual series of summer heat waves, where temperatures reach well into the 40s (104F+). It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s miserable. There’s an inescapable burning orb in the sky, buzzing insects in your face, and a pervasive smell of fake coconut (AKA suntan lotion, which is actually one of the pleasanter smells one encounters at this time of year). Summer can be rough, even intolerable, for a lot of people. Being of Greek descent you’d think I’d love the sun and heat. You’d be wrong. Born and raised in Canada, I’m far more tolerant of low temperatures than high ones, but even my ancestors had a word for people like me:

Ancient Greek Word of the Day: κακοθερής (kakotherēs), unfitted to endure summer heat (via Tumblr)

So what do you do when you and summer just don’t get along?

  • stay inside as much as possible during the day
  • when you have to go out, hats, parasols, and sunscreen are your friends
  • if it’s hot and you can’t cool down at home, the library is perfect (by the way, Love Lies Bleeding is now available at the Toronto Public Library! If your local library doesn’t carry it, ask them to start 🙂 )
  • movie theatres, coffee shops, museums, and art galleries are all good places to cool off for a few hours
  • look for nighttime entertainment and activities, such as concerts and festivals
  • reading is always a good (and portable) option. You’ll find endless articles about beach reads, but check out this article on alternatives to beach reading for sun haters.

Thank you, not you meme

 

Are you looking for books featuring characters that avoid the sun as much as you do? I’ve got you covered:

Ebook sale on books by Aspasia S. Bissas

Get Love Lies Bleeding for only $1.50 (seriously!) until the end of July–and don’t forget your FREE copy of Blood Magic.

How do you feel about summer? Share your thoughts in the comments…

Cheers,
Aspasía S. Bissas

beating the heat
Photo by asim alnamat on Pexels.com

Vampire’s Garden: Yarrow

white cluster flowers in bloom
Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained in botany and herbalism, she still has a garden and studies plants. This post is sixth 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: Achillea millefolium

Common Names: Common yarrow, sanguinary, bloodwort, plumajillo (“little feather”). nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, staunchweed, arrowroot, field hops, woundwort. An old name for Yarrow is herba militaris.

History: Native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, yarrow has now spread around the world, growing freely along roadsides and coastal areas and in fields and meadows. It’s been used medicinally since prehistoric times, including by Neanderthals. Ancient Hellenes (Greeks) used it to stop bleeding from wounds (the name Achillea comes from the hero Achilles, who supposedly took yarrow into battle to treat his soldiers). Indigenous tribes throughout North America used the herb medicinally for pain relief, fever reduction, and as a sleep aid, among other things. In the Middle Ages it was used along with other herbs to flavour beer before hops became prevalent (it’s still used in beer-making in Sweden). In the Hebrides it was believed that holding a leaf against the eyes would bestow second sight. In China the dried stalks have been used for centuries in divination.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Healing, protection

Cultivation: Perennial in Zones 2 to 8. Yarrow is ideal for native plant gardens, drought tolerant gardens, and wildlife gardens. Prefers full sun and well-drained soil, but is tolerant of many conditions. Can grow up to 1 metre (approx. 3 feet). Seeds require light, a moist environment, and cool temperatures to germinate, so sow outdoors, barely covered by soil, after the last frost date; or start indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost date and keep moist but not wet (it might be easier simply to buy plants or propagate by division). Spreads via rhizomes and can become invasive. Plant (or thin seedlings to) 30 to 46 cm (12 to 18″) apart. Once plants are established they need little watering and no fertilizing, although they can be prone to powdery mildew (giving plants adequate space around them for good air circulation will help prevent this). Flowers from May to July, and sometimes into autumn. Divide plants every other year in spring. Yarrow is considered an excellent companion plant, repelling pest insects while attracting beneficial insects, like predatory wasps, lacewings, and hoverflies.

Uses:

Medicinal: Astringent, anti-microbial, and anodyne. Drink tea made from the flowers to stop bleeding, for muscle aches and cramps, to reduce fever, for an upset stomach, or to help you sleep. Cooled tea makes an astringent facial wash (good for oily skin and skin infections/irritations). A salve or balm made from yarrow is useful on wounds, bruises, swelling, and various skin problems.

Fresh leaves can be crushed or bruised and applied directly to wounds. For nosebleeds, pick a few leaves, rub between your hands to bruise slightly, roll into a plug, and insert gently into the bleeding nostril. Leave in place until bleeding stops.

Culinary: Yarrow leaves and flowers have a flavour reminiscent of anise or licorice, and are somewhat bitter. Use fresh or dried as a herbal seasoning for food, or mix with other culinary herbs like tarragon and parsley. Can eat the greens fresh (use like sprouts or baby salad greens). Steam or blanch leaves and enjoy like other cooked greens. Don’t cook yarrow for long or at a high heat, as cooking destroys its delicate flavour and brings out the bitterness (especially when boiled). Yarrow is a nice addition to desserts, in sorbet and ice cream, or sprinkled over fresh fruit. Yarrow is also used to make some liquors and bitters.

Environmental: Can be planted to combat soil erosion.

Caution: Yarrow is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Do not let them consume the plant in any form. In humans, yarrow can cause allergic skin reactions and photosensitivity (avoid sun exposure when using yarrow). Avoid if you’re pregnant or breast feeding.

Wildlife: Many insects feed on yarrow, including nearly 50 species of moths. Several species of cavity-nesting birds use yarrow to line their nests (possibly because it inhibits the growth of parasites).

Mara’s Uses: Mara mentions Yarrow as a potential ingredient for her theoretical blood substitute: “Bloodwort, Sanguinary–that’s Achillea…” (Love Lies Bleeding, p. 156). Yarrow would also be included in the remedies she sells via her apothecary business.

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Further Reading:

Wikipedia

Growing Yarrow

Language of Flowers

Yarrow: 60,000 Years of Awesome

Everyday Yarrow Uses for Natural Healing

HGTV: Yarrow Uses

Cooking with Yarrow

Yarrow, a delicious and nutritious panacea

Medicinal Yarrow First-Aid Salve (how to make)

 

 

11 Craft Projects for Book Lovers

artistic arts and crafts colourful conceptual
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’m a big fan of crafting. When I’m not reading or writing (and sometimes when I am) I can often be found working on a project, usually needlepoint, but also crocheting/knitting, jewellery making, sewing, or something else along those lines. I get inspiration from all kinds of places: my own tastes, magazines, Pinterest, friends and family–but why not combine forces and get inspired by books? Not craft books, but actual novels?

Well, other crafters thought the same thing and have come up with some great literary-inspired projects. Here are some of my favourites:

Amigurumi Little Prince

amigurumi lttle prince

You can’t go wrong with The Little Prince. This amigurumi version by Eda Gizem K., over on Ravelry is adorable and would be fun to make. Get the free pattern here.

Assymetric Hunger Games Cowl

Hunger Games cowl

Perhaps not the most practical item of clothing for the non-archers among us, but still a pretty cool project. Elderflower on Craftster shares her free downloadable pattern.

Bookmarks

bookmarks

Still using old receipts as bookmarks? Nothing wrong with this practical-but-dull approach. Then again, for a little effort you can mark your place in a more colourful–and personal–way with a DIY bookmark.

Alice in Wonderland Flamingo Croquet Set

flamingo croquetMorena’s Corner provides a tutorial for one of my favourite DIY projects, ever: an Alice in Wonderland-inspired flamingo croquet set. Anyone up for a game?

Hardcover Book Pendant

Great video tutorial by I Love Paper Beads. You can find written instructions for making this cute pendant here. Or, if you prefer a stack of books…

Stack of Books Pendant

book necklace

Love it. Via the Darice blog.

Book Bag

bookbag

I’m normally not a fan of crafts that use (read: destroy) actual books, but some books really have outlived their usefulness and can be ethically sacrificed. And this awesome book bag by Mollie Makes is a worthy cause (but do try to find a book that’s damaged beyond repair, is missing pages, or isn’t valuable). Video tutorial and written instructions here.

Magnets

magnets

There are no instructions with these magnets, but they’re simple enough, and can be customized however you want. Use a clean mint tin or jar lid. Glue pictures, quotes, mini figures, and so on inside to create a scene evoking a favourite book. Then glue magnets on the back and adorn your fridge with your handiwork.

Terrarium

Alice in Wonderland terrarium

This gorgeous terrarium was originally posted on Catch My Party. Although there are no instructions, as with the magnets above it’s a pretty straightforward craft and can be customized for any theme. Keep costs low by looking for the container at secondhand stores or garage sales (you could even use a clean pickle jar, if you want).

 

Cross Stitch Bookmark

what would violet do

For the Lemony Snicket fans out there, here’s a cross stitch Baudelaire bookmark from SealStitchery on Etsy.  They also used to offer a “The World Is Quiet Here” pattern, but alas, no more.

the world is quiet here
Too good not to share.

Japanese Ribbon-Bound Book

how to make a book

Why settle for making book-themed crafts when you can make your own books? Here’s a tutorial from Homemade Gifts Made Easy on how to hand make a hardcover, Japanese-style ribbon-bound book. What’s that, you ask? Why, yes, I do accept gifts…

And just for fun, here’s a cross stitch I made in honour of Love Lies Bleeding. I didn’t use one pattern but put it together from a few patterns I found online.

vampire bat cross stitch needlepoint embroidery hoop by Aspasia S. Bissas
Vampires Suck cross stitch by Aspasía S. Bissas

Do you craft? Have you completed any literary-inspired projects? Do you know of any good patterns online? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Further Reading:

10 Lovely Literary Crochet Patterns

14 Book-Themed DIY Projects

15 Bookish Cross Stitch Patterns

15 Free Handmade Book Patterns