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

 

 

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Damon Salvatore, Mitchell from Being Human, Selene from Underworld, or any of the other fanged creatures-of-the-night that populate modern culture, including Mara from Love Lies Bleeding. The vampires we’re familiar with are (generally) human looking, powerful, often charismatic and attractive, with a thirst for blood and a dislike of stakes. But that wasn’t always the case. History and folklore are full of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Lilitu/Lilith

Lilitu are female blood-drinking monsters originating in Babylonia. They’re said to attack and destroy men (while the male version, lilu, prey on women and infants). It seems that over time the Lillitu combined with stories of Mesopotamia’s Lamashtu, and eventually morphed into Hebrew mythology’s Lilith and her demonic children. Banished to the wastelands by God for refusing to be subordinate to her husband Adam (yes, the one from the garden), Lilith arguably had a way cooler life as an independent woman, Queen of Demons, and mother of monsters. As in her ancient roots, Lilith is known to drink blood, usually from babies (she also eats children). An alternate version from Sumer describes her as an infertile “harlot” whose breasts exude poison, and who seduces men and drinks the blood of mothers and babies. She’s said to have wings and the feet of a bird. Lilitu/Lilith is also pluralized to describe a group spirits or demons with the same attributes. She/they are repelled with special amulets (which can still be found for sale).

 Alukah

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com, alukah, lilith, werewolf

Speaking of Lilith, the Alukah is a sort-of demonic werewolf-vampire hybrid that can fly and is also thought to be one of Lilith’s children (or possibly Lilith herself). “Alukah” is a Hebrew word that literally translates as “horse-leech,” but can mean blood-lusting monster or vampire (and can also be used as a title for Lilith). Alukah’s thirst can never be satisfied. It will die if it goes too long without blood, but if it dies with its mouth open, it can continue to feed on children for a year, so it should be buried with its mouth stuffed full of dirt to prevent that from happening. Alukah is also the Hebrew version of an Arabic blood-drinking demon named Aulak or Aluwqah (from the root of an Arabic word meaning “to suck”). Alukah can be warded off with specific incantations.

Dhampir

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com, dhampir
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Coming from the Balkans, Dhampirs (also spelled dhampyres, dhamphirs, or dhampyrs) are the offspring of vampires and humans. Their existence is attributed to the intense attraction male vampires have for human women (on the other hand, it’s rare for female vampires to mate with human men). Generally they have most of the strengths of their vampire parent, such as heightened senses and a longer lifespan, without the pesky drawbacks like intolerance to sunlight and garlic. They can also have magical abilities. They look human, but sometimes are described as having prominent facial features and teeth, a tail-like mark on their back, or no nails or bones. It’s also said that they don’t cast a shadow. While dhampirs can eat regular food, they do need to drink blood– although they can control the impulse better and don’t need to feed as often as vampires. Dhampirs have a supernatural ability to recognize vampires and often become vampire hunters– apparently professional dhampirs could still be hired in Kosovo as late as 1959. Unlike most of the lesser-known types of vampires I’ve written about, many dhampirs have made it into pop culture, including Blade, Rayne (from Bloodrayne), and several of the characters from Vampire Academy.

Lhiannan Shee

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com, lhiannan see, lhiannan sidhe, lhiannan si, leannan see, leannan sidhe, leannan si
Photo by Danielle Pilon on Pexels.com

Also known as the Lhiannan (or Leannan/Leanan) Sidhe, See, or Si, this Celtic vampire is a type of fairy. Almost always described as a beautiful woman (often with long hair and green clothing, as well as long nails and sometimes cloven hooves), the Lhiannan Shee is often attracted to creative men whom she inspires and slowly kills (sort of like a Muse with a body count). Besides inspiration, they can also bestow fame, luck, and wealth. Almost impossible to get rid of once she attaches herself to someone, the Lhiannan Shee visits her lover at night and is visible only to them. Lhiannan Shee usually drain “life force,” but they will also drain blood; either way their victim wastes away. The only way to escape the Lhiannan Shee is to reject them as soon as they’re encountered, which enslaves them to you, rather than the other way around.

Bhūta or Préta

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In India, men who are mentally ill or were born with a deformity, or who suffer an untimely or violent death, are thought to become a Bhūta (also known as Préta): cursed spirits forced to wander the earth hunting for blood. Bhūta take the form of balls of light, insubstantial apparitions without a shadow, or bats and owls. They possess and reanimate corpses in order to attack the living, which they do at night. Occasionally a Bhūta gets a craving for milk and will then attack an infant that was recently fed. Their victims inevitably become sick and die, although it’s easy to escape the Bhūta by simply lying down on the ground (something they’re incapable of doing). There’s also a special ceremony that can be performed twice a month to placate the Bhūta and prevent it from attacking anyone. Bhūta are also strongly repelled by the smell of burning turmeric, and will completely dissipate if they’re exposed to it for too long.

Have you heard of these vampires? Which do you think is scariest? Tell me in the comments…

Read my previous posts on this subject:

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Don’t forget to 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
Download my books and get more vampires now…

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

Further Reading

Vampire Folklore by Region

The Queen of the Night

The Case for Lilith

Dhampir Wiki

Lhiannan Shee

Bhuta

Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology: Bhuta

Currently Reading

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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

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Blood Magic

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Goodreads

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Tooth & Claw

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Goodreads

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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: Lavender Fields

One of my longtime dreams was to visit the lavender fields of Provence. In my mind, nothing could be more romantic; it was like a fairytale you could experience, something magical. And in 2015 I was lucky enough to finally be able to go. With surreal blue skies, cypress trees, castles, hills, Roman structures (some still in use so they can’t be called ruins), and, of course, lavender fields, Provence really is magical. When I was there my guide (Elodie of Provence Authentic) told me the fields are disappearing as farmers replace them with more profitable grapevines, which would be like Paris taking down the Eiffel tower to put up highrises. If you ever have a chance to visit the Luberon, the region where these fields were located, take it– while the lavender, and so much of the magic, is still there.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

By the way, the smell was incredible. Forget whatever you think lavender smells like– there’s nothing like an entire sun-warmed field of these flowers.

In the next photo, you can just make out a castle on the hill in the background. Apparently it once belonged to the Marquis de Sade. When I was there it was owned by designer Pierre Cardin, who was raising money to restore it. I wonder how that went…

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The flowers in this field haven’t quite opened yet. Lavender blooms in the Luberon from June until August, depending on location and type of lavender.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The farm’s name, “La Savonnade” means soap. By the way, “lavender” comes from the French “lavendre,” meaning to wash.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Mallow flowers among the lavender.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Surrounded by lavender fields is the lush green garden of the world’s luckiest homeowner. I wonder how they feel about unexpected houseguests…

Some local wildlife…

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Before we left, we moved l’escargot off the road to more pleasant surroundings.

Have you visited any lavender fields, in France or anywhere else? Share in the comments…

Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by actual events (there aren’t any lavender fields, but there are vampires.)

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

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Further Reading

Visiting Provence: Carpentras

Vampire’s Garden: Lavender

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

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

What to Do when Your Plot Falls Apart

What to Do When Your Plot Falls Apart, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Imagine this: you’ve written the first (or second, or third…) draft of a novel and it’s going well. You’re editing and rewriting at a good pace, happy with your progress. But suddenly the realization hits you that a major plot point of your book is all wrong. For whatever reason a part of your story– maybe even one the entire book hinges on– no longer works. Now what?

This happened to me. I wasn’t happy with the ending of my current book and I wasn’t sure why. Then the crushing awareness that it was all wrong and had to go. Not only did I have no idea how to change it, but any changes I did make would have major repercussions for the next book too. Cue the panic.

I think it’s safe to say most writers experience this situation at some point, but if it happens to you it can be disheartening to the point of making you want to give up. If you’re suffering a plot fail, don’t worry. Despite the initial panic and frustration, there are things you can do to help you through it.

Take a Break: It doesn’t need to be a long break. Spend a few hours or a few days focusing on other things. Give your mind a rest from writing while your subconscious keeps thinking about it. Before you know it you’ll be coming up with new ideas and solutions without even trying.

Brainstorm: If the thought of ignoring your writing (even temporarily) stresses you, then brainstorming might be more your style. Try these brainstorming techniques for writers and keep working on the issue until you figure it out.

Think About It: Is there actually a problem with your story? Sometimes writers are convinced their book is terrible when the real issue is anxiety or insecurity. Maybe your plot needs only minor tweaking– or maybe it’s fine as is. Take a deep breath and a step back before considering whether the problem is your plot or your perception.

Talk it Out: Find someone you trust and tell them about it. Explain your concern with what you’ve already written and see what they think. Getting a second (or third) opinion can be really helpful, and sometimes simply saying things out loud is enough to trigger solutions. Don’t forget writers’ groups and forums– they can be invaluable sources of advice and support.

Hire an Editing Service: Editors can do more than check your spelling. Many offer services such as story consultation or manuscript critique. If you’re stuck and nothing else is helping, professional help might be the key.

As for myself, a combination of taking a break, thinking about it, and talking it out helped me overcome my plot issues. My book isn’t done yet, but at least it’s back on track.

How do you get through when your plot is causing you problems? Share in the comments.

love lies bleeding, blood magic, tooth & claw, books by Aspasia S. Bissas
Interested in seeing what I’ve written so far? Download one of my books…

Love Lies Bleeding: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books, Amazon
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