4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

A while back I read a great article about how travelling can enrich your writing. In it, the author outlines how travel is unpredictable, fosters empathy and reflection, and creates authenticity in your writing. Now that travel is slowly getting to be possible again, it seems like a good time to remind ourselves of how much it can add to our lives. Here are four more ways travelling is good for creativity (even if you don’t go any farther than the other side of town)…

It breaks up your routine

Even the most imaginative person needs inspiration, and, as many of us have learned these last couple of years, nothing is less inspiring than doing the same things and seeing the same few places over and over again, day after day. Going somewhere new shakes you out of your rut, gives you a fresh perspective, and re-ignites creativity.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Alex Zhernovyi on Pexels.com

It helps you learn

If you go somewhere you’ve never been, you’re bound to learn something, whether it’s a few words in another language, facts about local history, or even a new skill (so many places offer classes and workshops for tourists). What you discover can be the spark you need for your current project, or the inspiration for something new.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It gives you the chance to be a different kind of creative

There are all kinds of opportunities to be creative while you travel, and if you can do so in a new (to you) way, even better (I’ve written before about how creativity begets creativity). Take pictures, write a journal entry (or poetry, short fiction, a song…) about your trip, sketch what you see, take part in a workshop, visit galleries and bookstores, talk to interesting people you meet along the way. Use it all as creative fuel.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

It can help you in unexpected ways

When I was having trouble finding the right image to use for the cover of Love Lies Bleeding, a photo I’d taken in Paris turned out to be just what I needed (I posted about it here). My Paris trip photos also came through for the cover of Blood Magic, and I have a third one in mind for the next book. I didn’t go to Paris to take photos for my covers, but my travels led to exactly what I needed. You never know what going somewhere new could end up doing for you.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Mohamed Almari on Pexels.com

You don’t have to travel to be creative, but it really does help. Even if you can’t make it to another country, try exploring a different nearby town, or visit a neighbourhood in your own town that you’ve never been to. The important thing is to break out of routine and try something new. It could lead you to places you never expected.

Has travel helped your creativity? Share in the comments…

Download my books and find out how my travels have influenced my stories, and not just the covers…

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! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Soucouyant, strigoi, impundulu, gallu, empusa
Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels.com

Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Carmilla, Drusilla, Akasha, 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 types of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Soucouyant

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Soucouyant
Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

A cross between a vampire, shapeshifter, and witch, the soucouyant (also known as soucriant, lougarou, Die-Higue, Asema, or simply hag) is known throughout the Caribbean, as well as parts of South America, and Louisiana in the U.S. During the day the soucouyant appears as an old woman, but at night she sheds her skin and takes the form of a fireball. In this form the soucouyant can enter any home through the smallest opening. Soucouyants suck the blood from sleeping victims, leaving telltale blue-black marks. Besides these marks, their victims become pale, weak, and tired. If she drinks too much blood from a person, they will either become a soucouyant themselves, or will simply die, allowing the creature to move into their skin. Soucouyants also practice black magic, exchanging blood for demonic powers. Evil monster or enterprising #girlboss? You decide. To temporarily stop a soucouyant, pile rice or salt in the house or at a crossroads– she will be forced to stop and count every grain. To kill a soucouyant, her skin must be destroyed with coarse salt (although some claim the rising sun will destroy her skinless body).

Strigoi

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, strigoi, nosferatu, dracula
Image from Nosferatu, 1922

Thanks to Bram Stoker, our modern ideas about vampires stem in large part from the Romanian strigoi, or restless spirits that rise from the grave at night to drink fresh blood. Strigoi can also be living witches or sorcerers, but with the same thirst for blood (especially infants’ blood). Far from being mere folklore, actual people have been accused of being strigoi, starting with the first known case: Jure Grando, a 17th century villager from what is now Croatia. Locals, including his widow, claimed Grando terrorized his village for 16 years after his death. When his coffin was finally opened, revealing his perfectly preserved body (apparently with a smile on his face), he was exorcised and decapitated. When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu was executed in 1989, he wasn’t given a proper burial, putting him at risk of becoming a strigoi, so his apartment was carpeted with braids of garlic. In the early 2000s, Romania banned the practice of digging up suspected vampires, so some areas started preemptively staking the dead before burial. There are a few things that can lead to someone becoming a strigoi after death, including living a life of sin, never getting married, or dying by suicide or execution. To prevent a strigoi from rising, nail their coffin securely shut; stake the dead through the chest or belly; or behead the dead and put the head in the coffin facing down. To get rid of a strigoi on the loose, exhume their body and destroy their heart before placing them face-down in the coffin. Staking or burning the body also works. If all else fails, place thorns across the threshold, fill the room with garlic, leave the lights on, and pray.

Impundulu

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. impundulu, lightning bird, vampire bird
Photo by Tejas Prajapati on Pexels.com

Those of you with a bird phobia might want to skip reading about the impundulu, also known as the lightning bird, a vampiric bird from southern Africa. Taking the form of a human-sized black and white (or possibly iridescent) bird, the impundulu is usually a witch’s familiar that can summon thunder and lightning to attack the witch’s enemies. It also has an insatiable thirst for blood. Sometimes it takes the form of a beautiful man so that it can seduce and feed on women. Like most vampires, the impundulu is immortal, being passed down from witch to witch, serving each in turn. Impundulu without a witch to serve are known as Ishologu, monsters that spread chaos and destruction without anyone to control them. When in human form, the impundulu will feed on human blood, but when in bird form, it feeds on animals. Although it rarely kills its victims, it harms them in other ways, notably by infecting them with tuberculosis, or leaving them infertile (victims that do die must be buried a special way; otherwise, a drought will follow). The only way to destroy it is with fire.

Gallu

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. gallu
Cylinder seal impression portraying the Underworld. Source.

Gallu is a type of demon originating in Mesopotamia, closely associated with Lilith and the Lilitu. They never stop drinking blood, although unlike most vampires, they also eat human flesh (fun fact: their name is where we get the word “ghoul”). In Ancient Greece they were known as gello (later pluralized to gelloudes) and were exclusively female and preyed on children. By the 11th century CE they were described as sucking the blood and vital fluids of infants. Over time they were also blamed for the deaths of pregnant women and fetuses. Early methods of repelling gallu/gello involved amulets and charms, such as red coral or a head of garlic. As the belief in gallu/gello persisted over the centuries, new methods of protecting against them developed, including baptizing infants and placing religious symbols in their cribs. Since they are demons, gallu/gello can also be exorcised (or invoked!)

Empusa/Empousa

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. empusa, greek mythology, "Love and Pain (The Vampire)" by Edvard Munch
“Love and Pain (The Vampire)” by Edvard Munch, 1894

Like so many creatures in Greek mythology (including Gello, above), Empusa (also spelled Empousa) started out as an individual woman (or in this case, the daughter of the Goddess Hekate, known for biting children, or possibly even the Goddess Herself in disguise), but ended up morphing into an entire group of beings over time. Empusa (plural: empusae) take the form of beautiful women to seduce and feed on men. It’s also claimed that they wait by roads to harass and attack passing men. In her true form, Empusa has a single leg: either a brass, bronze, or copper prosthetic leg, or a donkey leg (some sources say one of each); and flaming hair (which, let’s be honest, should have been the form she kept because– awesome!) Empusa targets sleeping men, enticing them before drinking their blood and devouring their flesh. The only references I could find to repelling empusae involve insulting them. According to one relatively recent source, Zeus killed an (or The) Empusa when she attacked Him while He was disguised as a traveller. The only advice for protecting oneself from empusae is to resist their advances, no matter how tempting.

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

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Can’t get enough vampires? Download my books!

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! ♥

Further Reading

Soucouyant

The Mayaro Soucouyant

Strigoi

Vampire Legends in Romania

Lightning Bird

South African Lightning Birds

Lightning Bird (Impundulu/Inyoni/Yezulu)

Gello

Empusa (Wikipedia)

Empousa and Lamia

Empusa

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Podcast Episode 5

Check out the last podcast of the season, where I ponder whether writing what you know is really the best approach. What are your thoughts? Share in the comments….

You can give it a listen right here, or follow this link to find out where else my podcast is available. Subscribe for free and keep an eye out for Season 2!

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Happy Long Weekend! Here’s Some Free Books…

Vampire quote: "The dark was comfortable; wrapped in it she was strong, primal." Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas,, aspasiasbissas.com

Happy long weekend to all who have one (and happy weekend to everyone else)! If you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books, and have a minute to spare, please show this author some love and leave a rating and/or review (links below)!

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

A novel about delusion, obsession, and blood.

Goodreads

Amazon

DOWNLOAD HERE

Paperback available from Bookshop – when you use this link, a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself.

Blood Magic

Myth and magic collide in this story about choices, transformation, and retribution.

Goodreads

Amazon

DOWNLOAD FREE

Tooth & Claw

A dark fantasy story about memory and delusion, violence and consequences; inspired by real events in Belle Époque France.

Goodreads

Amazon

DOWNLOAD FREE

Feel free to leave a rating/review on any other book sites too!

Thank you for supporting authors ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Confessions of a Slow Writer

Confessions of a Slow Writer, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, writing, am writing, writers, writers life, writing life
Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

I am a slow writer. I’m talking snail slow. Molasses on a cold day slow. George R.R. Martin slow.

I don’t like writing at this pace. I have ideas, stories, entire series impatiently waiting to be written– but they all just have to keep waiting. It’s not only the ideas that are on hold, either; interested readers have been waiting for the follow-up to Love Lies Bleeding since… *checks calendar*….2017. Yikes. I’m really sorry, guys. I promise I’m working as fast as I can.

It’s especially frustrating for me when I see other authors putting out books like clockwork. Some can get one completed every year, some every few months. Some even manage to deliver new books every few weeks. Meanwhile I’m over here trying not to think about all my lost potential.

I have reasons, of course. Too many to list, some probably more valid than others. The last several years I’ve been dealing with a lot: grief, major disruptions in my living situation, an ongoing attempt to buy a home and finally settle down, and– oh yes– an apparently never-ending pandemic. Isaac Newton may have been able to discover the theory of gravity while isolating from the Plague, but I find the stress of trying to not catch a deadly disease isn’t particularly conducive to the creative process.

Even if all these issues disappeared tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’d still be a slower-than-average writer. That’s because the main reason I take as long as I do is one that will never go away. Simply put: I don’t want to force it. When the Muse is with me, I can get pages and pages done. Those are great days. But the Muse isn’t always so generous. The thing is, you can still write when you’re not inspired. You can sit in front of your keyboard and tell yourself you need to produce X number of words, and then you can do it. We’ve all been there, with a word count and a deadline and grim determination.

But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.

Reality is, no one produces their best work when they’re forcing themselves. They’re lucky if they produce anything halfway decent under those circumstances. I could churn out books like some writers do, but those would never be books I’d be happy with. I’ve read my fair share of rushed books, and I think it’s safe to say that the authors who write that way probably aren’t really happy with their work, either.

When I take my time with my writing, I can make sure I’m producing something worth the effort. I can put together a story I would want to read and, hopefully, one that readers will find worth reading.

Maybe once life settles down a bit, I’ll be able to pick up the pace. But I hope my readers will understand if I can’t get a new book to them as often as we’d all like.

How about you– is there something you prefer to take your time doing? Share in the comments…

My next book is coming along, but in the meantime give these a read:

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! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas