Give from Your Heart (Vampire Approved)

Give from Your Heart (Vampire Approved), blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Give blood, donate blood
Photo by Magdaline Nicole on Pexels.com

One of the many repercussions of the pandemic here in Canada (and most likely everywhere else too) is a shortage in our blood supply. Blood and blood components are needed to help people with various medical conditions (including those with blood cancers), for surgery, and for emergency situations, like during childbirth or after a car accident. When there isn’t enough blood to go around, the consequences are devastating. So today’s post is to ask you to please consider donating blood, if you can. You’ll be rewarded with the warm sense of having done some good in the world (and a cookie). Your local vampires would approve 🧛‍♂️

For more information on donating blood:

Canadian Blood Services: https://www.blood.ca/en

Société canadienne du sang: https://www.blood.ca/fr

American Red Cross: https://www.redcrossblood.org/

NHS Blood Services: https://www.blood.co.uk/

If your local agency isn’t listed, try doing an online search for blood services in your country/region.

(By the way, veterinary clinics need blood too. Find out more here, or search for pet blood donations in your local area: https://www.canadiananimalbloodbank.ca/#!cabb )

Wishing you a bloody good weekend…

Aspasía S. Bissas

More Bookstore-Cat Love

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats
Photo by Hatice Yardim.

Given that libraries have kept cats as far back as Ancient Egypt, it’s probably safe to assume that bookstores have had resident cats for as long as there have been bookstores. Besides stopping rodents from destroying the books, cats are a soothing presence to (non-allergic) staff and visitors, act as a store’s (or library’s) public face, and add life to what can be a sterile environment. On top of all that, cats and book people are a natural combination. Here’s a small sampling of the bookstore cats who keep books safe and hearts warmed…

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Otis and Clementines, Nova Scotia

This adorable kitten is just one of many who get fostered (along with the occasional mama cat) at Otis & Clementine’s, in Nova Scotia, Canada. Visitors to the bookstore can play with, and adopt(!), the kittens at this store. Check out their Facebook page for more info on available kitties (kitten season is generally early spring until late October).

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, kittens, Otis & Clementines, Nova Scotia, Canada, adopt don't shop
In case you needed more convincing to visit Otis & Clementine’s
More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Wild Rumpus, Booker T
Booker T at Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus, a children’s bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA), has a number of cute animals on staff, but their two kitties are Booker T, who loves to get cozy wherever he can–including in unattended strollers, and Eartha Kitt (below) whose large size hides a tiny meow.

Eartha Kitt at Wild Rumpus

Kona Stories in Hawaii has two adored (and spoiled) rescue cats:

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Kona Stories, Hawaii, Loki, Kinsey

Loki (back) and Kinsey (foreground). These two are so popular they had to get their own separate Instagram accounts so the store’s account could focus on posting pictures of books.

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Vanice, Libreria Acqua Alto, Italy

This gorgeous trio can be found at Libreria Acqua Alto in Venice, Italy. This store keeps books in gondolas to protect them from high tide, and apparently the cats like to sleep on the books. Is it just me or would it be worth the trip just to see the felines?

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Paris, France, Shakespeare & Co, Agatha
Agatha

While you’re in Europe, you can swing by Shakespeare & Co. in Paris to spend some quality time with their beautiful tortoiseshell cat, Agatha. A former stray, Agatha was found in the Mystery & Crime section (can you guess which author is her namesake?), and decided to adopt the store.

Finally, here are a few unnamed kitties from unknown stores. Do you recognize them? Share in the comments…

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats
More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats
More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats

Looking for a book to read while you cuddle your favourite floof? I’ve got you covered…

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

10 Stunning Writers’ Homes

I love old houses (old buildings in general, actually). While I can appreciate the practical benefits of a new house, they can be a bit… boring (and after seeing the “same” new house a thousand times while house hunting, I’m even more bored of them now). Old houses have style. They have personality. They have soul. Throw in a resident writer and you’ve got a house worth living in (or at least visiting– see below for links). Here are 10 writers’ houses that are worth checking out…

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Thomas Hardy, Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England.

Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England: The cottage where Thomas Hardy was born. I love the thatched roof and garden.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Agatha Christie, Greenway Estate, Galmpton, Devon, England

Galmpton, Devon, England: Greenway Estate, home to Agatha Christie, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2004. Christie set several of her novels in the area.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Eugene O'neill, Tao House, Danville. California

Danville, California, USA: Eugene O’Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Tao House. This looks like a cozy space to work.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, Monk's House, Rodmell, East Sussex, England, Bloomsbury Group.

Rodmell, East Sussex, England: Not only is Monk’s House where Virginia Woolf worked on Mrs. Dalloway, it was also where she hosted the Bloomsbury Group.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Emily Dickinson, The Homestead, Amherst, Massachusetts,

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA: With a house like this, I can understand why Emily Dickinson was a recluse. The poet didn’t spend her entire life at the Homestead, but she was born here, and after moving back as a young woman spent the rest of her life here.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Alphonse Daudet, Letters from My Windmill, Draveil, Champrosay, Paris, France, Zola, Proust, Rodin

Draveil (former village of Champrosay), France: Can I just go ahead and move into Alphonse Daudet’s home, located a few kilometres south of Paris? Daudet finished Letters from My Windmill here, and also held famous weekly gatherings of the luminaries of the French arts scene (Zola, Proust & Rodin were among the regulars).

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . George Sand, Nohant, Indre, France, Frederic Chopin.

Nohant, Indre, France: More gorgeous French style at George Sand’s home. Sand wrote many of her books here, as well as hosting artists, musicians, and writers (Frédéric Chopin lived, and composed, here for several years). The house has been classified as a National Historic Monument of France.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Hartford, Connecticut.

Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this house’s billiards room, which also doubled as his study. I wonder if he got distracted by billiards the way modern writers get distracted by the internet.

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Edith Wharton, The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts, The Decoration of Houses

Lenox, Massachusetts, USA: Edith Wharton’s grand home, The Mount, was where she wrote most of her novels, and where she presumably implemented the advice from her first book (co-authored with Ogden Codman), The Decoration of Houses. 

10 Stunning Writers' Homes, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. . Louisa May Alcott, Orchard House, Little Women, Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts, USA: Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. A lot of Victorian interiors can seem fussy or claustrophobic, thanks to the “more still isn’t enough” design aesthetic of the time, but this room feels light and pleasant.

What’s your favourite writer’s home? Share in the comments…

What kind of house would a vampire live in? Get my books to find out…

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:

Orchard House

The Mount

The Mark Twain House and Museum

George Sand House

Alphonse Daudet House

Emily Dickinson Museum

Monk’s House

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Thomas Hardy Cottage

Architectural Digest

KQED Arts

New England Historical Society

Boston Globe

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

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