Summer Fun for Creatures of the Night

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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…

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.

 

Literary Perfumes

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I recently read an article about the connection between literature and perfume, which also included suggestions for ideal perfumes for book lovers. As someone who has a slight perfume obsession (current favourite: Vanilla Extreme by Comptoir Sud Pacifique), I was intrigued. I especially liked the idea behind the Imaginary Authors perfume company, whose scents are based on the fictional exploits of made-up authors (most of whom seem to be male, an oversight I hope they take care of soon). But if perfume can be designed for fictional authors, why not design one for Love Lies Bleeding’s main character Mara?

Since Mara works with herbs and plants, she’s essentially steeped in their scents without needing to wear perfume. But if I were to create a perfume for Mara, it would have strong notes of sweet woodruff (which smells like vanilla and hay), clover, and lavender, with hints of smoky peat and black tea. What do you think–would you wear this perfume? What perfume would you design for your favourite character or author? Share in the comments…

Read more about Mara in my free short story Blood Magic.” Myth and magic collide in this story about choices, transformation, and retribution: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/816146

And in Love Lies Bleeding: a novel about delusion, obsession, and blood:

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas

Available in paperback or ebook (also available at other booksellers).

Don’t forget to leave a review on your favourite book site!

 

 

5 Book Towns to Visit

adult book book store bookcase
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Book lovers are dreamers. We dream of other worlds and other lives. We dream of what we just finished reading and what we’re going to read next. We dream of homes crammed with our book collections, libraries that never close, and cozy local bookshops where we can spend massive quantities of both time and money. And some book lovers dream of entire towns devoted to books and then make them a reality. Did you know there are dozens of book towns around the world (enough that one writer even wrote a book about them)? Here are five of the towns where you can live your book dreams. Have you been to any book towns? Which are your favourites? Share in the comments…

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

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Hay-on-Wye Castle Bookshop. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Probably the best known of all the book towns, and credited with inventing the concept, Hay-on-Wye is home to numerous book and antiques shops. It hosts the Hay Festival in May and June, a literary event that travels to other cities throughout the year. A working book museum will also be opening later in 2018.

St. Pierre de Clages, Switzerland

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Book Festival, St. Pierre de Clages. Image: Le Nouvelliste

A Medieval village, St. Pierre de Clages is Switzerland’s only book town. The town specializes in antiquarian booksellers, but that’s not all you’ll find there. They also host an annual book festival in August that’s described as a must for “book lovers, amateur readers, history buffs or fans of comic books.”

Paju Book City, South Korea

book town paju
Forest of Wisdom Library. Image: Getty Images/Topic Images

Located next to the North Korean border, this literal city of books was built to symbolize the importance of the common good. There are almost no businesses in Paju that aren’t book related; the town is packed with bookstores, book cafes, publishers, printers, and a massive library that includes an on-site hotel. Most books are in Korean, but you can also find some in Japanese and English. There’s an annual book festival in September, as well as a children’s book festival in May.

Featherston, New Zealand

book town featherston
Featherston Book Festival. Image: Stuff

One of the newer book towns, Featherston already has a yearly book fair (featuring a fish ‘n’ chip supper), held in May. The event attracts local secondhand and antiquarian booksellers, and the entire town gets involved with shops setting up special displays and art installations.

Hobart, USA

book town hobart
Hobart. Image: Hobart Book Village

Located in the Catskills (New York), Hobart was essentially a ghost town not too long ago. Now it’s a dedicated book town with five stores featuring books on topics ranging from African American history and feminism to vintage cookbooks. Massive book sales are held on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, and Hobart also hosts their Festival of Women Writers every September.

These are just a few of the 40-ish book towns that exist around the world (although most seem to be in Europe, hopefully this concept will catch on elsewhere *cough*Canada*cough*). You can find out about more book towns here and here.

If you’re looking for something to read until you can get to the nearest book town, download my FREE short story “Blood Magic.”

BLOOD MAGIC by Aspasia S. Bissas

Myth and magic collide in this story about choices, transformation, and retribution. Available at SmashwordsBarnes & NobleiBooks!ndigo, and other online book retailers.

My novel Love Lies Bleeding is also available in paperback and Kindle at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and other book retailers. Love Lies Bleeding: a novel about delusion, obsession, and blood. Find out more here.

Writers’ Advice on Writing

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As with so many of my posts, this one is inspired by an article I read. In this case, the article shares advice on writing from famous writers. I don’t know about anyone else, but what I find most valuable about advice from other writers isn’t necessarily the advice itself (although it’s often helpful) but the chance to bond over writing, and to affirm that I’m doing something right. Whether you enjoy the advice, the bonding, or the affirmations, here are some of the best tips from other writers, as well as a couple of my own…

Get a Cat (Muriel Spark via her character Mrs. Hawkins, from A Far Cry From Kensington)

As someone with three cats, I can’t argue with this advice 🙂 Cats are a source of joy, laughter, and purrs (and my lap cat makes sure I sit and focus). If you’re not a cat person, you might want to consider bunnies or small pets (rats, mice, hamsters…) They’re equally good company and shelters always have many available for adoption.

Stop While the Going Is Good (Ernest Hemingway)

Stop while you’re on a roll and let your subconscious keep working on it until you start again. The best way to write is to not force it.

Writing Anything Is Better than Nothing (Katherine Mansfield)

Just write. The more you do it, the better you get, even if what you’re writing will never go further than the paper/screen it’s on.

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Some advice of my own:

Keep the TV, music, and internet (if you can) off. Some people can work with distractions; I’m not one of them. But even if the noise doesn’t bother you, words, phrases, storylines, and even rhythms can burrow into your subconscious and end up in your work. That can happen anyway (it’s just part of the fun of having a brain!) but why increase the risk?

Take up needlepoint. Or any craft you can easily do while staring at a computer screen. Crafts that occupy your hands while your mind is free to focus elsewhere are great for writing.

Take an editing class. Not that you should edit your own work, but you should be able to polish it before submitting it anywhere. No publisher is interested in a manuscript full of errors (it’ll also help with other things, like work emails and social media posts).

Do you have writing advice to share? What tip has helped you most as a writer? Let me know in the comments…

 

BLOOD MAGIC by Aspasia S. Bissas

Download your free copy of “Blood Magic.”

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?

Also available free at Barnes & NobleiBooks!ndigo, and other online book retailers.