Summer Fun for Creatures of the Night

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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 unfitted. But never mind the heat, there’s a bigger issue with the sun: I can’t stand the feel of it on my skin. Hell, I don’t like being in direct sunlight even when I’m completely covered. No, this isn’t some sort of melodramatic goth affectation (not that I’m opposed to those). Up until age 8, I loved the sun and spent my summers outdoors, usually in the nearest pool. And then my immune system decided to start going after me instead of sticking to fighting bacteria and viruses. All of a sudden sunlight was uncomfortable, exhausting, and overall unpleasant. I don’t know if this is a common side effect of auto-immune disorders or if I’m the lucky exception, but I can relate more than a little to my vampire characters.

not you

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.

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

Blood Magic: Myth and magic collide in this FREE story about choices, transformation, and retribution: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/816146

BLOOD MAGIC by Aspasia S. Bissas

Love Lies Bleeding: a novel about delusion, obsession, and blood: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35524549-love-lies-bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas

Make sure to leave a rating or review on your favourite book site!

What’s summer like for you? Share your thoughts in the comments…

Happy Fourth of July!

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Photo by john paul tyrone fernandez on Pexels.com

Wishing all my friends to the south a happy Independence Day!

Are you looking for good books to help appreciate the day? Here’s Goodreads’s list of Best Non-Fiction American History Books. Or check out Bustle’s list of books to help you understand the United States’s complicated history, or The Odd Historian’s 10 Best Books for American History Buffs. Happy reading 🙂

Wordy: Words About Vampires

bela

As a writer, I love words. As a vampire fan, I write about vampires. It seems natural to combine it all into one post: I bring you words about vampires 🙂

Sanguisuge (n) is a new word to me. It means bloodsucker, or leech. From Latin sanguisuga, from sanguis (blood) + sugere (to suck). Wikionary says it’s obsolete but I think it’s due for a comeback.

Related: “Sanguisugent,” (adj) blood sucking or blood thirsty.

 

revenant

 

You may have heard vampires occasionally referred to as revenants. The word was coined in 1814 by Laetitia Matilda Hawkins in Rosanne:

“‘Well, but what is it? What do you call it in French?’ ‘Why, revenant, to be sure. Un revenant.'” (p. 260)

 

lamia

From from Greek lamia “female vampire, man-eating monster,” literally “swallower, lecher,” from laimos “throat, gullet.” (Source).

“Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.”  -John Keats, “Lamia”

undead
1. (adj)  no longer alive but animated by a supernatural force, as a vampire or zombie.
2. (n) undead beings collectively (usually preceded by the)  (Source)
The first use of “undead” was c. 1400, but its use as a noun to mean vampires and other creatures dates from 1904. (Source)
“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.” -Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites
you had me at
Exsanguinate is one of those words I just really like. I first heard it on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it stuck with me. Exsanguinate is a verb meaning to bleed to death. It can also mean to drain blood or make bloodless, and it was first used around 1800, coming from the Latin exsanguinatus meaning bloodless or deprived of blood (Source).
“My first word for the new year was ‘exsanguinate,’ This was probably not a good omen.” -Charlaine Harris, Dead to the World
And of course, we can’t forget the word that all the others relate to:
vampire

 

The earliest form of the word “vampire” goes back to only 1734, although stories of monsters that rise from the dead and attack the living can be found even in ancient times. The idea of blood-gorged walking corpses goes back at least to the 1100s. There’s some debate as to where the word comes from, but it most likely has its roots in the Old Church Slavonic “opiri”.  (Source)

“It was too much, the weight of it all was too much. Maybe that was why emotions were deadened in vampires; the alternative was to be overtaken by them, crippled, left stranded and isolated and trapped by unbearable sensation. How could they hunt if they felt sympathy, empathy, love for their prey? How could they—how could she—live with themselves?” Aspasía S. Bissas, Love Lies Bleeding

Yes, that’s a quote from my own book (I’m sneaky that way). You can find out more about Love Lies Bleeding, including where to get it, here. And if you want even more vampires, don’t forget to download my FREE story Blood Magic: get it here.

Did I miss your favourite word about vampires? Let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in words, you can also read my post on words about books.

 

Weekend Reading

Weekends are made for reading, aren’t they? Part of the fun is picking your next read. If you’re in the mood for something with bite, check out my new short story “Blood Magic.” It’s free to download…

BLOOD MAGIC by Aspasia S. Bissas

On the run from both vampires and hunters, Mara and Lee are forced to confront the bleak reality of their future together. But an unexpected turn of events offers Mara the chance to shift things in her favor–at a cost. Will she walk away or will she embrace the magic?

Available FREE at SmashwordsBarnes & NobleiBooks!ndigo, and other online book retailers.

As for myself, I’m currently reading (and enjoying) The Perfect Afternoon Tea Recipe Book. Not just recipes, there’s also some interesting info in here about the history of tea. I recommend it for anyone who’s a fan of either the beverage or the tradition.

Library Love

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From the smallest neighbourhood library to the mega-libraries some cities have built, libraries are amazing places. They’re community hubs, bastions of knowledge (the librarians, as well as the books), respites from the chaos of everyday life, and as Doris Lessing said, “the most democratic of institutions.” There are people who argue that libraries are pointless in this digital age, a waste of resources for cash-strapped municipalities. Those people are wrong (I’m also willing to bet they haven’t been to a library in the last decade, and probably also brag they’re “too busy” to read).

For those of you who know the value of a library, I’m sharing a few of the standouts around the world (although there are many more out there)…

BIBLIOTHECA ALEXANDRINA

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If you cringe when you think about the destruction of the original Library of Alexandria, then you can take some comfort in knowing that Egypt has built a new library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, with help from around the globe. Besides a massive (about 5 million volumes) book collection (including rare manuscripts), the Bibliotheca also hosts an international book fair, holds art exhibitions, and has four museums. Tours are offered in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish. Find out more.

AUSTRIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY

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This library in Vienna is a work of art on its own, featuring marble statues, columns, and frescoes. It boasts an impressive collection of archives, including a map department with 295,000 sheet maps, 700 globes, 100 reliefs and models of castles, and more. It also has its own museums, including the Papyrus Museum and the Esperanto Museum. Not surprisingly, they offer guided tours. Find out more.

REAL GABINETE PORTUGUÊS DE LEITURA

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Another stunning library, the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura in Rio was recently renovated and restored. The collection features Portuguese and Brazilian literature, but this library is worth a visit just to admire the beauty of the surroundings. Find out more (in Portuguese) here.

Toronto Reference Library

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Local pride insists that I can’t make a list of extraordinary libraries without including the Toronto Reference Library. There’s good reason to include it, though. The Reference Library not only offers an impressive collection of books in multiple languages, it also features a Canadian Literature Collection, Arthur Conan Doyle collection, a book printing service (indie authors take note), an art gallery, and even two electric pianos for all your practicing needs. Find out more.

BIBLIOTECA VASCONCELOS

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Described as a “city of books,” the Biblioteca Vasconcelos in Mexico City was designed to help you get lost among the stacks. The library is actually five libraries in one, with collections based on five famous Mexican intellectuals. Although the Biblioteca misses the mark in a major way by including only men as its five inspirations, the library itself is a book-lover’s dream. It also features art throughout, a music collection, guided tours, and 26,000 sq metres (6.4 acres) of gardens. Learn more here.

LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT

The Library of Parliament

Canada’s Library of Parliament in Ottawa is a beautiful space with an amazing collection. Or so I’ve heard, since it’s open only to Parliamentarians. Not only is the library closed to the public, but they don’t even offer tours. I think it’s time that changed, don’t you? Read more here.

What do you love most about libraries? What’s your favourite library, or one you would love to visit? Share in the comments 🙂