Wordy: 10 Beautiful Words

gray magnifying glass and eyeglasses on top of open book
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It’s probably no surprise to anyone that writers love words, and I’m no exception. I have words I like, words that annoy me, and a few that stand out as favourites. Here are ten words that I think are some of the most beautiful in the English language…

10 beautiful words, meander, aspasia s. bissas

Meander has always been my favourite word: I love the meaning (totally appropriate to my own life, I might add) and how saying it sounds like its meaning. Meander is also a name for a winding border design formed by a continuous line:

meander, greek key, most beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas
Meander, also known as meandros, Greek Key, or Greek fret.

 

exsanguinate, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I first heard this word on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it became an instant favourite. What an elegant way for a vampire to tell their victim they want to suck their blood. Keep it classy!

But if bloodletting is too messy for you, there’s always…

defenestration, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I love that there’s a word that describes something so specific. And it’s fun to say–go ahead and try it. Lexico also offers an additional, informal, definition: “to remove or dismiss someone from a position of power or authority.” Clearly a useful word on numerous levels.

susurrate, susurration, susurrus, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I guess I really enjoy onomatopoeical words because susurrate is another one that sounds like its meaning. Every time I hear it I picture gentle breezes in gardens. You could even say the word is…

most beautiful words mellifluous, mellifluent aspasia s. bissas

It just rolls off the tongue.

Spike, Buffy, William the Bloody, William the Bloody Awful Poet, Effuldent, aspasia s. bissas

Sometimes it’s not the word itself, but where you learned it. Any Buffy fan will recognize “effulgent” as the word that earned William (AKA Spike) the mocking derision of several douchey Victorians for his “bloody awful” poem. Personally, I think the real crime was rhyming “’tis grown a bulge in’t” with effulgent, but the man was lovesick–he had bigger things to worry about than mediocre poetry. Effulgent actually has a lovely meaning and I think it needs to be put to use more often. Just watch the rhymes.

luminesce, luminescence, luminescent, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I like all versions of this word: luminesce, luminescent, luminescence. It’s a pretty word with a fun meaning–who doesn’t like glowing things (bio-luminescent mushrooms, for example)?

somniloquay, somniloquism, sleep talking, aspasia s. bissas

You can say you talk in your sleep, or you can use a word that makes you sound like a character from Shakespeare. Am I a sleep talker? No, my good sir; I am a somniloquist. Prithee stay the night and mark my somniloquay!

ensorcell, enchant, enchantment, magic, aspasia s. bissas

Magic, sorcery, enchantment–I like them all, but I think “ensorcell” best captures the awe and beauty of the beguiling arts.

frangible, fragile, breakable, aspasia s. bissas

There’s a delicacy inherent in the word frangible that’s lacking in the more prosaic fragile. Anything can be fragile, but only the most vulnerable are frangible. Or maybe that’s just me.

What do you think? Did I miss your favourite word? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Vampire’s Garden: Chamomile

vampire's garden chamomile, aspasia s. bissas
Photo via https://nccih.nih.gov

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 seventh 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: Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile) and Chamaemelum nobile (Roman or English chamomile).

Common Names: chamomile, camomile, German chamomile, Italian chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, wild chamomile, scented mayweed, Matricaria recutita, Roman chamomile, English chamomile, garden chamomile, Water of Youth, ground apple, mother’s daisy, whig plant, Anthemis nobilis, Anthemis, chamomilla, Flores Anthemidis, Grosse Kamille, Romische Kamile, manzanilla, sweet chamomile

History: Found near populated areas throughout temperate parts of the world, chamomile will grow in any disturbed soil, including along roadsides, near landfills, and in cultivated fields. It has been used medicinally since at least Ancient Egypt, and in beer making (and love potions!) since the Middle Ages. Roman chamomile was thought to be the superior form, hence the use of “nobile” (noble) in its botanical name, although research shows that German chamomile is actually the more potent of the two. Chamomile is the national flower of Russia.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Patience

Cultivation: Zones 3 to 9. German chamomile is an annual that readily self seeds. Roman chamomile is a perennial. Chamomiles like moist but well-drained soil and full sun (or part shade in hotter climates). Start seeds six weeks before last frost. Seeds need light to germinate, so scatter on top of potting mix, press firmly into the mix, and keep moist. Transplant outside after risk of frost has passed. (You can also directly sow seed outdoors in autumn.) Thin plants to 15 to 18 inches (38 to 45 cm) apart. Blooms June and July. After (Roman chamomile) plants flower, cut them back to soil level to ensure strong plants next season.

Uses:

Medicinal: Whichever type of chamomile you use, make a tea from the flowers and drink or apply externally, depending on what you’re treating. German chamomile in particular has been found to be antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for menstrual and intestinal cramps, as well as coughs and colds. Chamomile is calming and has been traditionally used to help anxiety and insomnia. Cooled tea can be applied to skin to calm irritations and help with swelling (it can also be used as a mouth rinse for sores or inflammation). You can make a pot of strong tea and add it to bath water for a healing bath. Chamomile is a mild laxative, but has also been found to help treat diarrhea in children.

Caution: Chamomile can cause allergic reactions in anyone allergic to pollen or plants in the ragweed family. Chamomile may also negatively interact with other herbs and medicines. Avoid using if you’re taking anti-coagulants, NSAIDS, or sleep aids (including herbal kinds).

Caution 2: Pregnant and nursing women are advised to avoid using Roman chamomile. Infants should not be given chamomile, as (like honey) it may be contaminated with botulism spores, which a baby’s immature immune system can’t handle.

Cosmetics: Chamomile extract or essential oil can be added to skin creams as a soothing ingredient. Cooled chamomile tea can be used as a hair rinse to bring out blond highlights. Chamomile can also be added to homemade bath products, such as bath bombs.

Food: Home brewers can use the entire chamomile plant to add bitterness to beer. Chamomile flowers can be used in drinks (lemonade, smoothies, cocktails), in homemade popsicles, or in baking and other desserts. The flowers have a sweet apple or pineapple scent, and are worth experimenting with.

Crafts: Chamomile makes a nice addition to potpourri. You can also scent your home by gently simmering chamomile (fresh or dried leaves and/or flowers) in a pot of water on the stove (do not leave unattended; keep a close eye on water levels).

Gardening: Prevent damping off in seedlings by watering them with cooled chamomile tea. Planting chamomile near sick plants often results in healthier plants.

Mara’s Uses: Mara orders a cup of chamomile tea in Blood Magic (download your free copy here). Chamomile would also be included in remedies she sells via her apothecary business in Love Lies Bleeding, as well as the ones she used to help her fellow passengers in Tooth & Claw (download your free copy here).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Further Reading:

Flower meanings

Wikipedia: Chamomile

Wikipedia: Roman Chamomile

Wikipedia: German Chamomile

The Flower Expert

German Chamomile

NIH: Chamomile

What Are the Benefits of Chamomile Tea?

WebMD

23 Ways to Use Chamomile

What Is Chamomile?

How to Grow Chamomile

 

 

7 Ways to Support Indie Authors

close up photo of book pages
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There’s nothing quite like reading. You start out staring at words on a page or screen, and– if all goes well –the next thing you know, you’re visualizing a vivid story in your head and empathizing with characters who suddenly feel like you’ve known them your whole life. A good story will give you the feels, stay with you long past the end of the book, and will make you want to go back and read it again.

We writers live to give readers this kind of experience. We write in the hopes of creating something worth reading, worth remembering. And make no mistake– it’s hard work. Lonely, demanding, often draining work, with more than its share of frustrations, setbacks, and disappointments. What is so effortless to read has taken someone months, years, maybe even decades to write and publish. While a few authors become household names, most toil on in obscurity, for the sheer love of writing.

person typing on typewriter
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As a reader, what can you do to help brighten a writer’s day and make the struggle worthwhile (not to mention keep the stories coming)? Here are 7 suggestions (6 of which don’t cost a penny):

1. Buy their books! Authors whose books sell can keep writing. If you like their work, help them keep producing it. (Handy reminder: find out where you can get Love Lies Bleeding here.)

7 ways to support indie authors, aspasiasbissas.com

2. If you prefer borrowing to buying, then borrow from a library or an official lending service like Scribd. It might be easier to borrow your friend’s copy, but the author doesn’t get anything that way. Libraries and lending services compensate authors and help them keep writing.

3. Ask your local bookstore or library to carry their books. Shelf space and budgets are limited, so stores and libraries often won’t offer a book unless they know people want it. (Handy Hint: give them the ISBN, as well as the title. Love Lies Bleeding’s ISBN is: 978-1775012528.)

assorted books on shelf
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4. Read their book! Seems obvious, but with everyone’s busy lives, it’s easy to set a book aside for later and then forget about it. Please don’t let this happen– an unread author is an unhappy author.

5. Review or rate their books on sites like Amazon or Goodreads (bookstore sites are also good). If you like what you’ve read– let the world know what you think. Just a line or two will do.

6. Share on social media (and tell your friends too). Help spread the word.

selective focus photography of woman using smartphone beside bookshelf
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7. Go to their events. Say hi, get a book signed, let them know they’re not sending their work out into a void. Writers might not be the most social people, but we love meeting our readers!

Do you have other ways to help support your favourite indie authors? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

PS: Take a moment to download your FREE copies of my short stories Tooth & Claw and Blood Magic (or if you already have, click the links to leave a rating/review)!

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

Happy Labour Day Weekend

Happy Labour Day from Aspasia S. Bissas
Hope you’re spending this long weekend relaxing with friends and family. Don’t forget to thank your local unions for this statutory holiday (not to mention two-day weekends in general) 🙂
And a quick reminder that my new story, Tooth & Claw, will be available free on 7 September!
Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas
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.
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

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