A Lesson in Education

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I had an unusual linguistic upbringing. Growing up, I heard mostly Greek at home (I spoke a mix of Greek and English). I also lived in a French province for the first nine years of my life. When I started school, it was at an English school, with French lessons starting in grade 1 (we eventually moved to an anglophone province, and I continued taking French until I graduated). My mom taught me the basics in Greek, and I had a very small amount of Greek school on weekends (I don’t think it amounted to a full year).

I never heard French at home, except when flipping past the French channels on TV. I never had anyone to speak French with outside of classes, and I only occasionally read anything in French. But I heard Greek constantly, spoke it often, and read and wrote it occasionally. I’d have conversations all the time with older relatives (granted, they did most of the talking, but I still felt I had a solid grasp of Greek). If anyone asked I would have said I was fluent in Greek and knew some French.

Then I decided to take lessons.

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I had a language learning app taking up space on my phone, so I finally decided to give it a try to see if it was worth hanging on to. I chose French as the language to learn since I’d been wanting to improve my skills for a while. The app starts off by testing you to see how much you know. I breezed through the test and got to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remembered and how easy much of it was (that said– keeping track of the gender of words and then adjusting all the words in a sentence accordingly is exhausting).

L’homme est canadien (the man is Canadian)
La femme est canadienne (the woman is Canadian)
Les hommes sont canadiens (the men are Canadian)
Les femmes sont canadiennes (the women are Canadian)*

 

(*These aren’t even the most complicated examples– wait until you need to start describing inanimate objects…)

It was great to find out that I wasn’t as bad at French as I thought. And since it was going so well, I decided I’d might as well improve my Greek while I was at it.

Considering Greek is technically my first language (I started picking up English as a toddler), that initial test was not as easy as I expected. Unlike with French, I did not get to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I discovered I didn’t even know some basics– my vocabulary and spelling are much worse than I realized (but at least my conjugation is good).

After a few minutes on the app, I realized I knew only some Greek and quite a bit more French than I’d assumed. Not what I expected.

It turns out the formal French lessons that I had in school made an impression that’s stuck with me decades later. Meanwhile, learning Greek mostly by “osmosis” let me down. There’s something positive to be said about rote learning and formal education, after all.

My years of absorbing Greek haven’t totally gone to waste. The knowledge I’ve picked up has definitely made the app lessons easier (I’m seriously impressed by anyone who can learn this language from scratch). Since starting the lessons, however, I’ve already seen a major improvement, especially in spelling, vocabulary, and reading. I’m probably only up to an Elementary School level of proficiency so far,  but I finally feel that I’m getting a real grasp on the language I’ve known all my life.

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As someone who’s always been more inclined to learn on my own rather than take a class, this has been eye opening. It’s amazing the difference that actual lessons can make. I’m excited to keep using the app, not only to keep learning French and Greek, but also to expand on my two years of high-school Spanish, and– hopefully– to learn a new language or two. The next time I’m tempted to learn something new, I think I’m going to find a class to take instead of assuming I can figure it out myself.

How about you– have you taken any classes lately, or are there any you want to take? Share in the comments…

Find out what I can do with language (including a bit of French) by getting 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
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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, 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

 

Currently Reading

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The last book I was reading turned out not to be my cup of tea, so it’s back to Terry Pratchett and Discworld. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’ll stick it out to the end of the (to be fair, very long) series, as I’m not enjoying them as much as I thought I would based on all the rave reviews about them. But, I’ll keep going for at least a few more books.

What are you reading these days? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

(P.S. Follow me on Goodreads for more bookish content 🙂 )

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

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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

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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

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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

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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