Saturday, October 31, 2009

A silvery full moon eclipses behind a passing wisp of feathery darkness and the deathly silence breaks with the howling of wolves in the distance. Shadow and moonlight compete to foreshadow the ancient markers, crosses, and obelisks scattered across the desolate cemetery. Century old oaks reach into the vast darkness like stalwart sentries while small animals skitter at the hoot of an owl.
Rich soil begins to boil and quiver across the dried ground. Clawing fingers reach toward freedom and mounds of dirt erupt and slip away as figures rise in unison across the surreal and haunted expanse.

And so it begins…

The witching hour.

The dance of the dead

Here we are at long last. Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day for some, All Soul’s day for others. Some celebrate by dressing up in ghoulish costumes, some celebrate the end of a harvest, and the beginning of a new year. Others bless the Saints while yet others light candles and pray for the souls that have left this earth. Point is, we all celebrate in one way or another.

Throughout this month, we’ve learned so much about how the holiday is celebrated around the world. Now let’s talk about how each of us celebrates this day. There just may be a surprise treat in it for one lucky commenter.

This is, as any good Black Rose Goddess would admit, my favorite holiday. I start the ritual and routine September 1st. I just can’t help myself. I celebrate the Pagan holiday as well as the American version. My home is decorated inside and out with the harvest colors of fall and amber lights, as well, orange and black lights. I have vampires who drift from the ceiling and a what we call Skeletor who hangs in the front yard and welcomes the little children to Halloween House. I have Damian, my skeleton butler who is dressed in a tux and bellows the song “Hot, Hot, Hot” to passersby after he scares the bejeebers out of you with his Vincent Price monologue. We create a small haven more for ourselves but I know others enjoy it. My neighbors smile and the kids know who has the best candy on the block.

I remember my first Halloween in this house. I went crazy decorating, buying candy, and got all dressed up. I believe Halloween was on a Saturday that year too. I waited and waited…


and waited some more.

Not a knock…

Not a doorbell to be heard.

To say I was a wee bit distressed would be exaggerating. LOL

Finally, well into dark, the critters and creatures began the assault. I took my giant bowl of candy and sat out on the porch. Can I tell you? I was in my own private Heaven…

Or should I say Hell?

A very Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain to all!

May you walk safely through the darkness and those of you, like myself, who will be lighting candles for those lost loved ones and pets this year, be safe.

Congratulations to the Got Wolf Anthology authors. Our anthology is selling well and better than anyone anticipated. Keep up the good work, Ladies.


Now did I mention I will be sending one lucky commenter a Halloween/Autumn goodie bag? Well, I think we’ll ride this out until November 1st at midnight because technically we are still embracing the holiday in some cults, so anyone who posts how they celebrate the Halloween/ Samhain tradition will be entered into a drawing. So let’s get sharing, shall we?

Callie Lynn

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Moment with Got Wolf Anthology 2 Heroine Dr. Karen Marshall of "Raven's Shelter" by Dariel Raye

Hi. I’m not really used to talking about myself much. Usually what I do is behind the scenes, but here goes. My name is Karen Marshall, and I’m a veterinarian. Most people don’t know it, but I’m also owner of a county “no-kill” shelter. I grew up in North Georgia, and my parents were pretty well off but I spent most of my time with pets. I guess that’s one reason I love animals so much. In fact, most of my money goes to running the shelter.

The guy I’m seeing, Ron, doesn’t understand. Actually, my co-workers say he’s a jerk. LOL. I guess they’re right, but he has his good points. He just doesn’t understand how important helping animals is to me. Come to think of it, he doesn't understand much about me at all. Anyway...

Yesterday, I found this gorgeous black wolf with the softest, clearest baby blue eyes you’ve ever seen. Can you believe they were actually going to put him down? Something that beautiful and intelligent? No way. I brought him home with me.

He turned his head like he understood everything I was saying. I named him Brutus. It was like he almost smiled at me. I couldn’t get him to eat anything though, and when I went to sleep he jumped out of the window. I wanted to kick myself for leaving the window open! I drove around for over an hour searching for him, but nothing. Absolutely no sign of him. I guess you’re wondering why I’m telling you about this, but I haven’t been able to think about anything else. I know. It’s like my co-workers tell me – “Doc, you can’t save ‘em all.” But I can try. There was something really special about this one, though.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Not Me!

Got Wolf?

I must admit, if I had to choose, vampire or werewolf, I’m a “were” kind of gal. Maybe it was conditioning from an early age when I would watch Dark Shadows. I was always enthralled with Quentin Collins, the tortured son of vampire, Barnabus. And who could ever deny the appeal of Underworld's Michael Corvin. I always guess I loved the tortured hero. The vamps are usually beautiful, to me they’re the corporate guys of the supernatural world, the guys in the suits, not so with my were-pals, they're the rough, battered,hunky physical laborers, the guys in jeans and tight t-shirts, showing off those rippling muscles.
So, how could I resist these anthologies?

Each hero and each heroine—each story and setting—is unique. And the variety is amazing. There are werewolves fighting vampires, demons, Nazis and each other to survive in modern day.

Helen Hardt’s Blood Wolfe is an enticing tale of an orphaned werewolf, trying to find his origins and the woman who will be his mate, but there are witches, demons and vampires around...
In My Lord Werewolf Ria Ellis has crafted a regency about heroine known as The Cursed One—she’s buried three fiancés—will it take more than a mere man to break her curse?
Shadow State by Isabel Roman, set during the early days of the Nazi regime in Germany, is a great twist to the werewolf tales and uses the fact Hitler was obsessed with the occult and human experimentation as a backdrop.
Autumn Shelley’s Blood Moon creates world where were-creatures aren’t a secret, but rather an unwelcome part of society. Kate doesn’t like this inequity. When she rescues an injured animal she dubs “Rover”, she doesn't know he’s a werewolf and he really doesn’t like being called Rover.
Raven’s Shelter by Dariel Raye has a sinister group wanting to experiment on the werewolf community. In his wolf form, Raven has escaped, and a veterinarian has taken him to her home. Is the lovely Karen his salvation?
When a demon roams the earth, Marek, an ancient warrior, awakens to battle it. Luckily, he has the help of a modern day female werewolf, Cheyenne, in Marek’s New World by Renee Wildes.
Werewolves in London is a witty take on the “were” among us by Karilyn Bentley. Vonda is a werewolf working as a dog trainer. She’s never met another werewolf like herself until she moves to London--Montana. And she’s met a nice rancher, she just hopes he doesn’t find out she’s the one who’s been eating his cattle every full moon...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vampire Legends

Lurking in the shadows throughout history, there have been creatures who exist in legends and myths who feed on the blood of the living. The names and attributes of the creatures may vary as do the countries of their origins, but they all have at least two common denominators. They are returning spirits or the undead, and they feed from the living in some form.

Some Hebrew legends claim that Adam had a wife before Eve and her name was Lilith. Unlike Eve, Lilith was said to have been made at the same time as Adam and refused to be subservient. Because of her constant disobedience to God she was banished to the demon realm. Naturally, Lilith was pissed and was just waiting for her chance to get even with Adam.

Later, God created Eve and Adam and Even produced two sons. And of course, we all know what happened between Cain and Able.

But according to this same Hebrew legend, when Cain killed his brother, God cursed him to walk in darkness for eternity. And because Cain had wanted his brother's blood, God cursed him with an eternal craving for blood. Hence, two vampire myths were born.

Later, Lilith became a succubus, a female demon who seduces men in their sleep. And so she seduced Cain, taking his blood and giving him hers in exchange, thus awaking him to his immortal nature.

Afterward, Cain spent years wandering the desert, ashamed of what he had become. Then he returned to the mortal realm and built the city of Enoch. He chose three mortals and created a second generation of vampires. In turn, those vampires created a third generation, but fearing God's wrath, Cain forbade the creation of other vampires.

Years later, a great fire destroyed Enoch and Cain left his fledgling vampires behind. Without leadership, his vampires created a fourth generation who rose up against their elders and destroyed all but a few. Those who were left swore they would never kill mortals needlessly nor create others of their kind.

It is said, that if a vampire repeatedly breaks either oath, Cain himself will rise up from his self-imposed tomb and destroy him.

And so, the modern legend of American vampires has its roots in Hebrew mythology, complete with built-in explanations as to why there are so few vampires running amok throughout major cities around the world.

They're obviously afraid of the Wrath of Cain.

But there are so many legends and so many creatures similar to vampires in other countries.

The Upior is an undead creature from Poland who consumes blood through his forked tongue rather than via enlarged incisors. The Upior has an insatiable thirst for blood. He even sleeps in blood. To avoid becoming an Upior, Polish people would bury their dead face down with a willow cross under the armpits, chest or chin. The body was also buried deep to prevent the dead from rising. And family members of the deceased who might become Upior would eat blood bread, made by mixing the vampire blood with flour and baking it. Eating this was thought to make them immune to vampire attack.

Staking and decapitation were the recommended methods of destroying a Upior.

In Germany, the vampire is known as a Nachtzehrer or Night waster in the Northern provinces and a Blutsauger or bloodsucker in Southern Germany and Bavaria. One usually became a Nachtzehrer by one of three ways. The main way was by an unusual death such as violent accident or suicide. But if there was an epidemic of some sort that claimed many lives, the first to die was branded a Nachtzehrer and accused of sucking the life from subsequent victims. And the third and most bizarre way to become a Nachtzehrer was for the family not to remove the deceased's name from his burial clothes.

Upon death, villagers in Northern Germany would place clumps of earth under a potential vampire's chin, place a coin or stone in his mouth, or tie a handkerchief around his mouth to prevent the deceased from becoming a Nachtzehrer. In extreme cases, the the corpse would be beheaded or a spike would be driven through his head to pin him to the ground so he could not rise from the dead.

Those not baptized Roman Catholic, witches, and anyone who'd committed suicide or lived an immoral life in Southern Germany and Bavaria were in danger of becoming a Blutsauger. Others in danger of becoming the undead were those who ate an animal killed by a wolf or had a nun jump over their grave.

Of course, I have to wonder if grave jumping was something nuns did a lot of in Germany...

At any rate, to protect themselves from these bloodsucking creatures of the night, the villagers smeared garlic over their doors and windows and placed hawthorn around the house. To kill a Blutsauger, one had to drive a stake through the creatures heart and stuff garlic in his mouth.

The Hungarians, Turks and Romans all had myths about vampires and vampire-like creatures but Romania gives us our most famous legends. In regions like Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia, where Vlad the Impaler was once known as Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, vampire tales are more abundant than in any other country.

Romanians believed a child born with a caul over his face was cursed from birth to become a Strigoi (male) or Srigoaica (famale)--better known as a vampire. They also believed children born out of wedlock and those who died without being baptized could become vampires. The seventh son of a seventh son or the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter was also at risk.

Of course, being bitten by a vampire could transform a person and those who committed suicide or practiced witchcraft were also in danger of becoming the undead upon their death.

To prevent the endangered dead from becoming the undead, garlic was placed in the deceased's mouth and a stake was driven into the ground above the grave, in the hopes that the creature would impale himself should he rise from the dead. Sometimes, an iron or wooden stake would be driven into the deceased's heart or navel.

There are as many legends about vampires as there are names for these walking dead. And whether you like your vampires hideous and homicidal or heroic and hunky you're bound to find a vampire story to your liking.

OUT OF THE DARKNESS just happens to have a heroic, hunky vampire seeking a cure for his dark hunger. You can read about Vincent this summer when my book is released from The Wild Rose Press June 18, 2010.

Check it out this summer and let me know how you like your vampires!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wicca and Modern Witchcraft

Merry Meet, everyone!

I'm happy to bring to you some information about the history of witchcraft and the modern Wiccan faith.

Unfortunately, the most famous incident involving Witchcraft were the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when mass hysteria brought about the brutal deaths of many innocent people. But the Salem Witch Trials were far from being the first time "witches" were hunted and killed. Mostly women were accused of worshiping demons and working all kinds of strange magic. There is one major flaw with this theory. Witches do not beleive in Satan. Satan  and demons are "inventions" or beliefs of Christian religion.

The roots of magic come from the Celts, people living from between  700 BC and 100 AD. They were a deeply spiritual people who worshiped both the God and the Goddess. The Celtic New Year began at Samhain, which means "Summers End" and was the final harvest of the year. This was also their "Festival of the Dead", where they honored their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Many contemporary Halloween traditions come from Samhain. And despite centuries of persecution, Witchcraft and magic have survived into modern times.

In the 1930's, Dr. Gerald Gardner stumbled upon a coven of Witches and he learned the true meaning of Witchcraft. He found that far from being devil worshipers, witches were a benign people closely atuned to nature, whose first and only commandment was "And it Harm None, Do As You Will". He and many others helped bring about what is known today as Wicca.

Wicca is a religion like any other, with its rituals and ceremonies. Magic is only a part of the Wiccan life.

Magic is defined as the change of any condition by ritual means. It's nothing more than channeling focused energy toward a specific goal. In fact, Christians do it all the time. They pray for something and they get it. Prayers that bring wants and wished to fruition contain at least four compnents: intent, focus, concentration and a strong dose of will. Precisely the same components necessary for spellcasting.

So yes, Witches cast spells, but not for harm or personal gain. We believe in the Threefold Law, that whatever harm we do to others will come back to us threefold. Each Witch has a Book of Shadows - this is their spell book, filled with spells they have written themselves or many that have been passed down through families for generations. Our religion is based in pulling and bending the energies of the earth to do our bidding. Many Wiccan's use folk medicine whenever possible and because of our close relationship to nature, many are vegitarians.  We celebrate the cycles of the moon and use them at different times for different magic.   

So if you wish to honor the dear this Samhain, just leave a few apples and pomegranates outside your door, and say, "O fruit of Death and Fruit of Life, Fruit that eases mortal strif; Ease the hunger of the Dead until They reach their final stead. Be food enough for everyone, until Their journey's fully done".

Blessed be, everyone! Have a safe and happy Samhain!

Julianna Sage
Merry Meet, everyone!

I'm happy to bring to you some information about the history of witchcraft and the modern Wiccan faith.

Unfortunately, the most famous incident involving Witchcraft were the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when mass hysteria brought about the brutal deaths of many innocent people. But the Salem Witch Trials were far from being the first time "witches" were hunted and killed. Mostly women were accused of worshiping demons and working all kinds of strange magic. There is one major flaw with this theory. Witches do not beleive in Satan. Satan and demons are "inventions" or beliefs of Christian religion.

The roots of magic come from the Celts, people living from between 700 BC and 100 AD. They were a deeply spiritual people who worshiped both the God and the Goddess. The Celtic New Year began at Samhain, which means "Summers End" and was the final harvest of the year. This was also their "Festival of the Dead", where they honored their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Many contemporary Halloween traditions come from Samhain. And despite centuries of persecution, Witchcraft and magic have survived into modern times.

In the 1930's, Dr. Gerald Gardner stumbled upon a coven of Witches and he learned the true meaning of Witchcraft. He found that far from being devil worshipers, witches were a benign people closely atuned to nature, whose first and only commandment was "And it Harm None, Do As You Will". He and many others helped bring about what is known today as Wicca.

Wicca is a religion like any other, with its rituals and ceremonies. Magic is only a part of the Wiccan life.

Magic is defined as the change of any condition by ritual means. It's nothing more than channeling focused energy toward a specific goal. In fact, Christians do it all the time. They pray for something and they get it. Prayers that bring wants and wished to fruition contain at least four compnents: intent, focus, concentration and a strong dose of will. Precisely the same components necessary for spellcasting.

So yes, Witches cast spells, but not for harm or personal gain. We believe in the Threefold Law, that whatever harm we do to others will come back to us threefold. Each Witch has a Book of Shadows - this is their spell book, filled with spells they have written themselves or many that have been passed down through families for generations. Our religion is based in pulling and bending the energies of the earth to do our bidding. Many Wiccan's use folk medicine whenever possible and because of our close relationship to nature, many are vegetarians. We celebrate the cycles of the moon and use them at different times for different magic.

So if you wish to honor the dear this Samhain, just leave a few apples and pomegranates outside your door, and say, "O fruit of Death and Fruit of Life, Fruit that eases mortal strife; Ease the hunger of the Dead until They reach their final stead. Be food enough for everyone, until Their journey's fully done".

Blessed be, everyone! Have a safe and happy Samhain!

Julianna Sage

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Scare Factor

In the first conception of this blog entry, I was going to share my yearly ritual on Halloween, including the story of the “Jack-o-Lantern Man” that I created after my daughter was a toddler (and that I tell my children each year). Then, I was intrigued by the history of the ever mysterious dire wolf, and started to write a little something about them to share with all of you. But something happened the very next day that changed my plans entirely, and I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Halloween isn’t only about costumes, traditions, and corn stalk mazes. It’s also about being rip-roaring terrified.

My husband and I are horror movie fanatics, so it goes without saying that when we heard about this low-budget little film entitled Paranormal Activity that had fans screaming, we just had to check it out. For the sake of remaining spoiler free, I will only say this: the movie got the job done with very minimal effects. You won’t witness oodles of blood and carnage. This flick is not about what you see. It’s about what you DON’T. And sweet candy corn, if that’s not one heck of a way to deliver!

There is something so frightening about placing pieces together as your mind formulates what it believes is going on. How many of you have been alone in your home and for some unknown reason, feel as if someone is watching you. I’m talking about that hair raising, gut clenching, lemony bile in the back of your throat producing sensation of fear. In an effort to squelch the panic, you’ll turn on all the lights and travel from room to room until you are illuminated in the bright rays that your mind somehow perceives will shield you from harm. It doesn’t make any sense, but holy mother if those 60 watt bulbs don’t make you feel better.

Don’t know what I mean? Then try this.

Go to an old cemetery at night (one that has a history of haunts is even better for this). Stand in the center of a few graves and close your eyes. What was that noise just behind you? A rodent scurrying about maybe? And that slow steady pounding in your ears isn’t footsteps is it? It’s your heart hammering inside your chest…right? Much like the Bloody Mary dare, it’s a sensory exercise. You know you’ll be fine, that when you open your eyes nothing will be waiting to greet you on the other side of the mirror. But then that little inner voice in your gut whispers, “Are you really so sure about that? What if you’re wrong? What if…”

And that’s it in a nutshell. “What if?”

My first time partaking in the exercise above happened in a place called Dead Children’s Playground (pictured above). It’s a small little area directly behind Huntsville’s historic Maple Hill Cemetery (established in 1818, the hundred acre cemetery blankets the bodies of hundreds of union soldiers that were killed during the civil war, as well as numerous families from my area, pictured below).

The belief is the spirits of the dead children cross over the thin rock wall of the adjoining cemetery and play at night. I took the dare when I was seventeen and walked down the thin slats of concrete into the playground alone one night. The swings swayed but there was no wind. Muted whispers lined my ears but I was completely alone (my friends, aka the cowardly three, remained safely inside our plush 1986 Dodge Aries while I forged ahead-the wimps!). And though it was completely dark, I could see everything in that tiny circle with a vivid clarity.

Did I see the ghosts of dead children? No. But was I scared? You bet your knickers I was! I stayed the allotted 5 minutes and then I was outta there! Even now, over fourteen years later, I have the same reaction to the place. It’s not that anything has ever happened to me. It’s that, “What if?” whispering in my ears.

I’d love to hear any stories you have to share. Have you ever been sitting at your television and seen a glimpse of a face in the monitor that has no earthly business being there? Have you visited haunted houses and seen a shadow or felt a cool breeze chilling your skin? Or have you seen a movie like Paranormal Activity that reminds you that sometimes the thing that has the biggest influence over your fear is yourself?

Happy reading! Have a safe and fright filled Halloween!
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Origins of Halloween traditions

As you take your children out on Halloween or stay home and pass out candy, do you ever wonder how all these traditions started? Did some child, hungry for candy, make up a holiday to get the forbidden sweets?

Not exactly.

As explained in an early blog, Halloween comes from the Celtic tradition of Samhain. Back in 43 C.E., Romans had conquered most of the Celtic territory and combined two of their festivals with the Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first festival was Feralia, a day in late October that Romans commemorated the passing of the dead. The second Roman festival was in honor of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona's symbol is the apple, which could explain the apple being part of Halloween.

The traditional dates for Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) are October 31 to November 1. However, the actual astrological date is the mid-point between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. So the actual date fluctuates year to year. I found two different internet sources regarding the actual date this year. One source says that in the Northern Hemisphere Samhain is on 10/31/09. Another says this year it is on 11/6/09. Here are the sources for more reading:

Moving on. Where do the typical Halloween traditions come from?
Here's a bit of background to better understand. Until the Church came along, Celts did not have a concept of heaven or hell or demons and devils. They believed that the dead lived in fairy mounds with the fairy folk. On Samhain, those who had died during the year would walk the earth until they came to the land of eternal youth and happiness. So, if you wanted to see your dead relative one last time, Samhain was the night to do so. Although the Celts didn't have demons and devils, they did have fairies who resented man for taking over their land (guess the fairies are a whole other article!). These tricky fairies would try to trick humans into getting lost in the fairy mounds where they would be trapped forever. So, not only did you have to avoid the fairy trickster, but you had to avoid your human buds too as this was a night mischief was allowed. Since it was believed that the night belonged to neither one year nor the other, chaos reigned and people engaged in all sorts of practical jokes. As part of the jokes, people would imitate the fairies and go from house to house begging for treats. If you gave them treats then they wouldn't play a trick on you. If you were one of these human tricksters, you also had to avoid the fairies who were out and about too. For protection from fairies, people would carry a turnip carved to represent the fairy faces. The poor fairy was supposed to believe that these turnip carrying people were under the spell of another fairy and leave them alone. Celts would also carve out the turnip and put a candle in it to use as a lantern. When the Irish immigrants came to North America, they found the pumpkin worked better than the turnip and combined the carving of fairy faces and the candle to give us our Jack O'Lantern.

Another tradition was fortune telling for the coming year, which was done with apples. Dunking for apples was a way to predict a marriage. The first person to bite an apple was the first to get married. The person with the longest apple peel was the person that would live the longest. Colors were also significant. Black and indigo represented death and orange represented harvest. Sound familiar?

So when you see all the children asking for candy as they walk by your Jack O'Lanterns you'll know where the traditions started.

To give credit where it's due, I took an online class about the different Celtic holidays. The teacher used a lot of online sites for the class if you'd like more information. It's really interesting to me to see how we get our own holiday traditions.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween In Italy....

Most people who know me are very aware that I have had a passion for Italy that is part of my life, so when this blog came about, I thought it might be rather interesting to discuss Halloween in this wonderful country! Just about everyone is aware of the spectacle and beauty of Venice's Carnevale, and it's often compared with Halloween - even in Italia! So...

Halloween In Italy:

Shocking to some, inevitable to others - Halloween is surpassing the well-known Italian holiday of Carnevale! Carnevale arrives 40 days before Easter and kids dress up, go out and throw confetti, and play innocent practical jokes on everyone. It lasts about one week. And, children in Italy stuff themselves with pumpkin risotto and porcini mushrooms - instead of sugar filled candies like in the United States.

In Italy, Halloween has been making amazing progress influencing the culture of the young, particularly over the past half dozen years. According to research, Italian searches for 'Halloween' are more concentrated, and much higher than those of Carnevale. Carnevale is still superior, but with the younger generations, they are looking to embrace the mischief and magic of Halloween. This is throwing some controversy into the laps of religious authorities in Southern Italy. Halloween is starting to develop a superior influence over Italy's Day for the Dead on November 2nd. A large majority of Italians would like to see Halloween become a national holiday in Italy, but many disagree with its meaning and roots. In 2006, Italians spent 250 million Euro's on Halloween parties and accessories, 20% more than in 2005. It may be a holiday that was pretty much invented in America, but it has far deeper roots.

America discovered Halloween through European immigrants and created a magical fairytale reality out of it. But Halloween was originally born in Europe. In the 19th century, immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought their customs with them from their homelands, and kept them alive after years pasted in America.

In Honor of the Dead

It was common in Europe to have a day of celebration to honor the dead. The Romans celebrated the Feralia in their honors to the dead. This took place also in February at the end of the Roman year. All Saints Day was invented by Pope Boniface IV to replace the pagan holiday with one of Catholic roots, all in respects for the deceased. This seems to be the 'Italian' Halloween.

Years back, downtown Rome in October showed sparse signs of Halloween, with only a few shops offering Halloween candles and decorations. As time passed, stores have started catering to the Halloween Holiday - featuring rows of costumes, make-up and tons of decorations. For Italians it's really not the meaning behind Halloween that holds significance, mostly it's just an excuse to have another Festa. (If there isn't a day in Italy without some kind of festival, holiday or reserved day for something original the Italians wouldn't be Italian.)

However, Halloween arrived more or less in the 80's. This was when American horror movies made their theatrical invasion, and left gruesome impressions on European minds. Friday the 13th, Freddy scissor-hands, and Halloween initiated the emergence of this strange and ancient candy-land of a holiday. Before long, the Italians started to catch on and embrace the holiday. More parties are held for adults today on October 31st, in hotels and privately. For the kids, schools are starting to have their own little parties, despite bribes trying to stop them.

Italians today still recite the fact that Halloween does not have any strong meaning for them, in all likelihood for reasons related to their Catholic beliefs. Slowly though, as masked parties are being held in Italy, and great fun is being had, the holiday continues to grow and become a bigger part of the Italian culture.

Not many Italian children in Italy are familiar with the Trick or Treat tradition. They still do not go door to door with pillowcases stuffed with candies, chocolates and various treats ranging in different shapes and colors. Halloween has taken to Italy in a positive fashion by many, but there is still much uncertainty that remains. Slowly, in the coming years - Halloween probably will be accepted and embraced by Italians.

Sources: Life In Italy, Italy Magazine, Modern Italian, and many wonderful friends from all over the magical country called Italia.....

Halloween Traditions are on the Internet at:

The "Bones of the Dead" site is at:

For some scary stories, appropriate for the season, try:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What exactly is Samhain and where did Halloween come from?

Samhain in Gaelic actually means summer's end. "Sam" means summer and "Fuin" means end. Another fact is that the term is or never has been linked to the Celtic God of the dead or the major Sun God which share similar


In my quest for information, I've found very interesting information and have copied below the definition and celebration practices of Samhain giving credit where credit due, of course.

*Samhain (sow-inn) has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows' Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honoring the dead.

To most modern Pagans, while death is still the central theme of the festival this does not mean it is a morbid event. For Pagans, death is not a thing to be feared. Old age is valued for its wisdom and dying is accepted as a part of life as necessary and welcome as birth. While Pagans, like people of other faiths, always honour and show respect for their dead, this is particularly marked at Samhain. Loved ones who have recently died are remembered and their spirits often invited to join the living in the celebratory feast. It is also a time at which those born during the past year are formally welcomed into the community. As well as feasting, Pagans often celebrate Samahin with traditional games such as apple-dooking.

Death also symbolizes endings and Samhain is therefore not only a time for reflecting on mortality, but also on the passing of relationships, jobs and other significant changes in life. A time for taking stock of the past and coming to terms with it, in order to move on and look forward to the future.

The word "Halloween" itself gets its origin from the Catholic Church and the term "All Hallow's Eve" which is another name for All Saint's Eve. November 1st is the Catholic celebration All Souls Day which honors the departed.

Not only did the Celts believe the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead dissolved on this night, they thought that the presence of the spirits helped their priests to make predictions about the future.

To celebrate Samhain the Druids built huge sacred bonfires. People brought harvest food and sacrificed animals to share a communal dinner in celebration of the festival.
During the celebration the Celts wore costumes - usually animal heads and skins. They would also try and tell each other's fortunes.

After the festival they re-lit the fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to help protect them, as well as keep them warm during the winter months.***

Another interesting fact I have come across is the origin of the term Halloween. The word "Halloween" gets its origin from the Catholic Church. It comes from the term "All Hallow's Eve" which preludes the Church's honor of the Saints on November 1st.

Throughout history Halloween has been debated and banned in religious circles but today seems to hold as much favoritism as Christmas for many. We see much celebration, decoration, and partying to celebrate the day. I know I go way out for the holiday.

Please drop by my blog and website and don't miss any the tricks or treats. I have a special contest going on now. For details go to my website and click on the 'Contest' page.

Thank you for having me here today.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Wooden Stake Please

Fascination with the vampire seems to be pervasive these days and that makes this Black Rose editor very happy. After all, I’ve been a fan of vampires for a long time. There is a flip-side to the vampire, however, that deserves just as much consideration. For every vampire, there must be a vampire slayer. Consider that the vampire in both folklore and fiction seems epitomize evil. That being the case, then there must be one whose job it is to destroy that evil. Probably the best known slayer is, of course, Stoker’s Van Helsing.

Nearly every culture has their form of a vampire, the most familiar to us being the revenant (Dracula is a revenant). Destruction of the vampire began with local customs and the tools of the slayers seen in fiction and in films derives from the Slavic customs. For example, the wooden stake through the heart came about from one such custom. If a spirit is believed to have escaped the grave and is attacking the living, one solution is to open the grave and stake the body to ensure it cannot rise. From this custom grew the legend of killing a vampire by a stake through the heart. Sunlight and crosses came about through fiction not folklore. To be an effective slayer, however, requires serious study into the customs of the region. Here in our world, we’ll stick to the tools influenced by both Slavic customs and the Christian Church.

So, what does a good slayer need? First and foremost: a nice wooden stake and a mallet. A little holy water doesn’t hurt nor does a crucifix. Toss in a Bible (more for the slayers comfort than as a real weapon), and a clove or two of garlic. The most effective weapon and the one seen most in varying cultures, is fire. The one sure way to destroy any vampire is with a roaring conflagration! Be sure to include a nice box of matches in a slayers kit. A dagger is often included although its use is somewhat limited. Second to the effectiveness of fire is the ability to take the vampire’s head. For that something more substantial than a dagger is needed. A sword is a nice weapon to have on hand even if it doesn’t fit into the slayer’s kit.

With the kit ready and armed with the knowledge needed to understand the enemy, a slayer is ready for a hard night’s work. Any takers?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zombies are people, too.

Yes, you read that right. Zombies are people, too. So don't be hating! LOL

I didn't make this all up. In fact... there is a lot more on Zombies and their brothers, Vampires. In 1935 in Key West Florida an outbreak of Zombieism broke out after a hurricane. Over 200 people were infected.
The vaccine is 100% infected. Before the vaccine those who contracted the disease - virus, died within days if not months.
~~Happy Halloween~~

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Necromancy...Take a walk on the wildside

It’s midnight and you just happen to all alone in the local cemetery. What to do?? Well, you have a couple of choices. You can run as fast as you can for your car—or—you can take a page from the Bible and raise the dead. Oh yeah, you read that right. You see, in the Bible you will find the story of one of the best known Necromancers in history: the Witch of Endor who raised the dead prophet Samuel for King Saul.

So, if the Witch of Endor could do, you figure you can too. You decide to stay and give it shot, but you also worry that by doing so, you’re touching on something black and evil. After all, the rituals for raising the dead resemble those used in ceremonies to summon the devil and conjure up demons. There are magic circles, spells, and incantations. You begin to tremble at the mere thought. Rest assured, however, that Necromancers, by and large, are on the white side in the realm of magic, even if they do sometimes wear the clothing from the corpse during the ceremony. For their intent is not to create havoc and destruction. Rather they raise the dead to obtain useful information be it things the dead knew before their demise, or knowledge obtained from the world beyond. Once the ritual has been performed, the dead have risen and questions answered, they are returned to grave. Some Necromancers choose to burn the corpse or bury it in quicklime just to make certain it will not be disturbed again. It’s typically a one-shot deal. Raise them once and never again.

Keep in mind that despite the best intentions of most in the field of Necromancy, there are, as in most professions, a few bad apples. They are the ones who give the rest of the Necromancers a bad name! These are the few who use their skills not in the manner they are intended, but rather to harm. They will raise the dead and send them into the world to harm the living. These are the Necromancers who have brought down the wrath of the church and even the full force of the law. In England, Necromancy was outlawed by the Witchcraft Act of 1604.

Before the night fades, draw your magic circle, murmur the ancient words of the most skilled Necromancers, and watch as the dead rise to meet you. Take your time and then ask the most pressing question on your mind this dark and stormy night—“How the hell do I get out of this cemetery?”

**For a more detailed description of Necromancy, be looking for my upcoming Black Rose novel, Full Moon Rising.***

Friday, October 16, 2009

Occult and Nazi's

Ancient runes, occult legends and dark gods bring to mind the supernatural, paranormal tales we've heard all our lives but how often does it bring to mind...Nazis?

However, the Nazis and Hitler particularly were fascinated by all things occult. Many people do not realize that most of the Nazi symbolism comes from ancient runic markings. The Nazis were obsessed with all things occult or Druid in origin; in fact Hitler based many of his most controversial policies on ancient occult teachings or theories.

For instance: he believed the Aryan race was descended from the Nordic gods which in turn was a race saved after the lost continent of Atlantis' residents took refuge in the Scandinavian countries. Hitler firmly believed that the Aryan race lost their innate supernatural powers (such as telepathy, superior strength, etc.) because of interbreeding with lesser races. This belief was the main reason behind his ethnic cleansing and eugenics policies.

It was shocking how rich the Nazi world and mythos was for the setting of a paranormal story. They were into absolutely everything and their views were skewed toward the belief of the supernatural, they believed themselves to be supernatural actually.

The Indiana Jones movies are not far off the mark as to the fervent pursuit the Nazi's engaged in when hunting religious artifacts, lost legends and the like. It is well documented that they went on a crusade for the Holy Grail and The Spear of Destiny. In fact, it is theorized that Hitler started WWII in order to acquire The Spear of Destiny.

In my short story, Shadow State, I took these facts and used them to create my fictitious world where wehrwölfes or wölfes lived hidden in German society until one fateful day when a group of SS officers capture a man after he changed into his wölfe form.

The story then follows Christoph, the clan leader and Elsa, a defacto pack leader, through their journey to rescue the captured wölfe and explore the feelings they have for each other. Strasser, the SS flunky, is single-minded in his intent to learn their secrets and to create more wölfes.


“Based on what you’ve told me regarding the subject’s reaction to the dogs you introduced, I can only assume he was raised around other rabid beasts. Tell me, Karl,” he reverted to the familiar now that the interview was over. “Where did you find the…man?”

With an uncharacteristic huff, Strasser leaned back in the chair. “We picked him up in Neukölln after he attacked a mob. The details are unclear, but I understand it took four men to bring him in.” He sat up and added, “Four men, even though the beast had taken two gunshot wounds.”

“Hmm,” Gerard said to cover his disgust at Erik’s treatment. “Neukölln, I would have said in one of the outer provinces.”

“I want you to set up a test,” Strasser stood. “I’m going to have a subject brought in from the prisons. If the beast bites him, we can create more of these unusual creatures.”

“You believe the legends of the wehrwölfe?” Gerard asked.

Strasser offered a smile that made him sick. “There’s one way to find out.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Séances and the Ouija Board

A séance is a meeting in which a person attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead. The popularity of séances grew with the Spiritualist movement of the 1800s. The movement began during March of 1848 in Hydesville, New York, at the home of John and Margaret Fox and their two daughters, ten year-old Margaretta and seven year-old Catherine, whom they called Kate. The family had been plagued during the winter by unexplained rapping and knocks. The children nicknamed the unseen entity they believed caused the noises Mr. Splitfoot because of their mother’s fear the sounds were the ‘work of the devil’. One night young Kate asked Mr. Splitfoot to repeat the knocks in a certain order. The entity complied. She did it again. Once again, the knocks repeated in the order she requested. Her mother, overhearing her daughter’s conversation with the entity, intervened and began to ask her own questions. They asked the spirit to answer with one knock for no, three for yes. Each question was answered correctly. Word spread and people arrived to witness the rapping. When the sisters moved to Rochester to live with their older sister, Mrs. Leah Fish, the loud spirit rapping’s which seemed to center around Margaretta moved with them. Leah became aware of the financial possibilities connected with her sisters’ contacting Mr. Splitfoot and asked her friends to come to the house to witness the events. Soon she began organizing public demonstrations.

People were fascinated by the séances they witnessed. Spiritualism exploded across the country and remained popular for several decades after. There were many types of séances held. Some in grand parlors, community halls, or in darkened rooms with only very few people. One of the methods of conducting a séance was to use the Ouija board.

The Ouija (commonly pronounced wee-gee) board as we know it today was developed around 1890 though it is believed that similar ‘talking boards’ or ‘spirit boards’ were used even in ancient times. In ancient China, Greece, Rome and even certain tribes of American Indians some manner of spirit boards were used which they claimed assisted them in communicating with the dead. The classic Ouija board in use today is a flat board marked with letters and numbers, as well as the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’. An indicator, commonly called a planchette, is used for the spirit to spell out the messages or answers to the questions the person using the board has asked.

A coffin maker in Chestertown, Maryland, named E.C. Reiche had an interest in séances and wanted to create a simple method of communicating with the dead. Together with his two friends, Elijah J. Bond and Charles Kennard they developed what Kennard called the ‘Ouija’ board. He claimed that while using the board a spirit told him what the device was called explaining the word was Egyptian meaning ‘good luck’, though no such word seems to exist. Others claim the name is a combination of the words for French and German meaning ‘yes’. Oui and Ja.

The Kennard Novelty Company was formed in 1890 and the Ouija board was sold for public use for $1.50. No séances or mediums were necessarily required since anyone could use it. Isaac and William Fuld took over the company and renamed it the Ouija Novelty Company in 1892. Finally, in 1966, the Parker Bros. acquired ownership and the Ouija board was recast as a toy status. Children were given the board as Christmas and birthday presents by unsuspecting parents.

There is much controversy even today on the true abilities of the Ouija board. Stories abound of practitioners inadvertently opening a portal for spirits or those posing as spirits to gain access to their homes. A novel published in 1971 called The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was based on a 1949 exorcism he heard about while he was a student at Georgetown University. Supposedly a young boy used the Ouija board to communicate with his deceased aunt and instead invited something entirely different into his body. The novel was the basis for the movie with the same name released in 1973.

The Ouija board is still sold in stores today usually with no paper instructions accompanying it. Séances are also still conducted in one form or another, sometimes by teenagers playing at slumber parties or by those with serious intentions for speaking to the spirits. In any form of spirit communication caution must be observed. After all, who knows for certain what’s really out there?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Now that's a weird coincidence

I’m a pushover for finding oddball connections. I like them. I thrive on those coincidences that make for good conversation fodder. I believe in meant to be and help from above. And when weird coincidences occur in life, it often doesn’t surprise me.

I’ve worked with someone for over a decade. Once a year, we smile and say, “Have a good birthday” to each other. The thirteenth time we did this, those warm wishes led to a strange chat. What!? Born the same year, the same time of day, in the same city? We also lived around the corner from each other and had met as little girls. Weird, huh?

A chance accident, an event that smacks of a twist of fate, a happenstance that’s a total fluke! Aren’t these weird? Do they make your flesh crawl with a tingle that starts somewhere in your gut and works its way up? Whether your eyes grow wide or narrow when such freaky moments occur, the premise is the same. And it hits you like a knock out punch while eerie music plays in your head.

Something ever happen to you by chance in a truly remarkable way? What about an unexpected, unplanned twist? Call it karma, the fickle finger of fate, destiny… Nah. Just call it a weird coincidence.

The premise is so one in a million that it’s downright freaky. And destiny can wink at you anywhere, at any time. But if it’s thousands of miles away as you crawl into a remote Scottish castle, the sole survivor of a tour bus’s plunge into a yawning ravine, and the person who scrapes you off the floor is your long-lost first love, you’ve got another weird one on your hands and not a bad beginning of a love story.

Twists of fate create goosebumps when the situation is way beyond normal. Deja-vu, anyone? Now that’s an interesting topic. Dreaming something before it actually takes place? See? Another weird coincidence! I love them.

One night, I slammed on the brakes in the middle of a dark road as a huge buck jumped the hood of my car instead of ending up as road kill and with me having a smashed up front end. This really happened. No lie. My daughter stared at me for a full minute before asking, “Uh… it came out of nowhere, so like, how did you know?” Maybe an angel on my shoulder—or possibly possessing my right foot? Call it good karma or incredible luck, it’s another weird coincidence.

This is the Black Rose Blog, so let’s face it. Creepy happenings and weird circumstances ring our bells. The imagination takes over and since ours are overactive anyway, we run with these things. After all, we’re the writers who build fictitious worlds and give our heroes fangs, fur, or immortality. They shift, glow, glamour, curse (in the evil sense), morph, breathe fire or just plain make Superman look like a wuss. Dragons talk to us and those mythical muses either grace us or punish us.

In our paranormal tales of serendipitous passion, weird lashes the heartstrings of the hero and heroine together. We use out of the ordinary to stretch real, human emotions. In the spirit of Halloween and all that goes bump in the night, let’s celebrate the creepy coincidences that make the skin crawl.

I’ll leave you with one more weird coincidence, just because I tend to ramble and it’s really a weird one. My favorite aunt passed on while a good friend and I were taking Saturday classes. Ro and I had worked together on two advanced degrees for almost four years. I wasn't feeling well and the doctor ordered a complete blood work up. Ro promised to save me a seat and take voracious notes. I’d get to class as soon as I left the lab assigned by my medical insurance. Arriving for the yucky blood-taking early, only one seat remained next to a woman that looked exactly like my deceased aunt. We talked about family, school, and my hard-to-find floating veins. Then she proudly mentioned her niece...who took Saturday classes. My eyes narrowed. An eerie, diminished chord did a quick crescendo up my spine. I asked one question as the tingles totally buzzed. Yep. You guessed it. Her niece was my good friend Ro, the one taking notes and saving my seat.

Come on. Share a weird coincidence. I know you have one.

~ M. Flagg

Retribution! The Champion Chronicles: Book One

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


So you write about shape-shifting cultures... How do the shifters manage their transmutation? Even better, how did the Church deal with the potential paradox in history that completely clashed with Christianity? The byproduct is what's so much fun in writing historical fantasy! I'm a big fan of delving into Church's questionable activities because I write about Freemasons (originally Knights Templar in my setup) from the future. The more I search, the more interesting the dirt I uncover. Here's a quote to leave you pondering what the upper echelon of the clergy was up to with their non-traditional hobbies...


In the Middle Ages, Ceremonial Magic was openly practiced by many high dignitaries of the Christian Church. (See also the chapter on Ceremonial Magic.) This was a time when the Church was mercilessly persecuting people for being Witches. However, since Ceremonial Magic was regarded as a practice rather than a religion, it was not viewed as being counter to the Church teachings and a blind eye was turned to those who performed it.

There was great rivalry between the magicians, who usually worked alone and jealously guarded the methods of operation they perfected. To safeguard the results of countless years of work, many magicians would write the most important parts of their grimoires, or books of magic, in secret "magical" alphabets. This way, if the book was ever stolen, the thief would not necessarily be able to perform the work it had taken so many years for the magician to perfect.

Various magical alphabets were used to perserve this secrecy. They had such titles as Angelic, Enochian, Malachim (or Language of Magi), Ogham, Passing the River, and Theban. Various runic alphabets were also employed, as were Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

But perhaps the more important reason for using the magical alphabets was power: power that the magician could put into his book and into the talismans and other instruments he used. ~Raymond Buckland, SIGNS, SYMBOLS, & OMENS: An Illustrated Guide to Magical & Spiritual Symbolism, p. 147-8

Everyone's invited to read more about Knights Templar history from an anthropological perspective at my blog. ~Skhye

Dare to walk in their footsteps...

"FORBIDDEN ETERNITY ... spine-tingling suspense. The story is dynamite; it explodes off the pages and leaves you breathless for more." ~Tulip, LASR

"... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller." THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON ~Snapdragon, LASR

"Arthur is a masterpiece..." HE OF THE FIERY SWORD's King Arthur ~Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

Time Guardian books in print
Time Guardian books in e-format

Monday, October 12, 2009

A little vamp history

Beware mere mortals, there’s a new guy in town… well not really so new, but in truth very old, ancient actually, experienced and as of lately, sexier than any one man—or woman has a God-given right to be, but then these lustful creatures of the night aren’t of the Divine Order, or are they? Vampires are among us. And hopefully here to stay! At least until all my books are pubbed—sorry for that shameless plug about Eden’s Black Rose! Coming next year from The Wild Rose Press.

They’re on television, movie screens, hogging up bookstore’s shelves, snuggling next to you in your bedroom heating up your hormones not to mention any other part of your anatomy that loves to be caressed, kissed, sucked or nibbled on. And let’s face it, who among us doesn’t enjoy having their neck kissed or their inner thigh nibbled on? Two of my fav hot spots, not that you needed to know that. TMI? Not nearly half as bad as the detail I could go into…but I won’t today. Not sure of the ratings here J

I watched Dracula and those he sired since I was big enough to turn on the telly, and I gotta tell ya’ll, I don’t recall them being anything other than scary enough for me to go running to my mom for protection... And no, she wasn’t armed with apotropaics—Holy H20 or crucifixes, branches of a wild rose, silver anything or multiple strands of garlands even though I do adore the stuff. Ever try garlic ice cream? Ummm. (Callie, remind me to add to my 2nd book where Olivia stuffs the thorned branch down his trousers? Revisions and edits—do they ever really end?)

Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula.

 I have just one burning question really—when did the thieving, conniving revenants become the to-die-for-sex-heroes of our books and movies? When did Mr. Wrong turn into Mr. Right? Coz this guy just doesn’t do it for me! Can’t see myself hopping into Bela’s casket for a quickie

The little bat still visits me in my nightmares. Back in the day those animated little corpses reminded me of a giant mosquito out to make my life miserable; left me with an insatiable itch. Today, that itch has a delicious sensation when it’s accompanied with the promise of untamed, unbridled primitive passion; the killer “O” as long as it doesn’t really land you in the morgue. There’s the risk that draws people to the dark side. 

Has our own daily dilemmas taken such a plunge into the underbelly of the world that we are desperate for new blood? Are we the true vamps in search of new destinies? A quickie fix?

I’m always up for a quickie J

Have death and taxes and all that lies in between taken its toll on our sense of humors? Yup!

On our love affairs?

Oh hell yeah! How many times have we watched a love scene or read one with some bloodsucker and we wet our panties wishing we were the actor in their arms and then we trot off to the sack with our mortal lover in hopes of finding something that just isn’t as magical as our expectations? Does the magical enthrallment ruin what used to be a great roll in the hay? Not always! Once in a blue moon we get lucky.

As far as reality goes, I don’t even know what’s real or not any more. I have so many voices in my head daily telling me what to say, what to write, who to kill off, who to jump into bed with…. (Giant grin on that one!) that I’ve lost my sense of self. I really don’t need meds, although….

Do we need an escape hatch?

I for one do. It’s why I began writing.

I am sick of waking up every morning to a mundane cup of java, watching my dog turn yet another patch of what’s left of my green grass, brown and going to work to painstakingly, (sorry, couldn’t resist) watch the hands on the clock tick my life away one second at a time.

I do have a point. I just tend to wander off the beaten path and take the scenic route home.

Vamps have been around well before 1200. Documentation of such non-living creatures has been recorded and disputed over centuries. Folklore described the undead as those whose souls never departed their bodies after death. They were shrouded in tattered cloths and bloated once the casket was opened. 

Ah—hello! You ever see what happens to a animal’s body when it’s left outside in the sun? Puffs right up better than a hunk of dough. EWH! What do people expect when you put someone in the ground in a pine box and let them ferment? One, the bugs get in and munch on whatever bugs munch on (it’s really best NOT to think about that) and two, all the internal shit has a meltdown and turns into gases. And we all know how a gaseous tummy makes us feel, right?

Voltaire, a Polemic (one who practices disputing controversy wrote a long, long time ago: Vampires got out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living and then return to their grave. The person so sucked waned, grew pale and fell to consumption, while the sucking corpse grew fat, got rosy and enjoyed an excellent appetite. The stories grew by leaps and bounds bringing us up to speed.

Myths, fables, some true tales have special places in our libraries, but none ever so as popular as Vlad Tepes Dracula—The Impaler. Handsome little devil isn’t he? I didn’t think so!

This is the procreator of all evil Dracula stories. Bram Stoker in 1897 wrote, Dracula, after the ruler of Wallachia, in the Balkans. Tepes stands for ‘Impaler.’ A means to which the man ended over 40,000 lives by impaling their bodies on long stakes for illegal, immoral wrongs they committed. He then displayed their corpses in public to instill fear to others whom might have considered a path less legal. He was considered a true leader.

Dracula’s name has a distinct origin. The Holy Emperor of Rome founded the religious  Order of the Dragon in 1410. Their symbol was a dragon. Seems befitting! The word Dragon in Romania is ‘drac’ and ‘ul’ is the definitive article, (no clue what that last part actually means J). This was Vlad’s father’s name; Vlad Dracul. He and his wife then popped out a little boy…“Ulea” means son of, thus giving Vlad Dracula his name. The word “Drac” also means the devil in Romania. Enter spooky stories. Vlad, like so many men, has evolved over the centuries… Thank God, right? Survival of the fittest and all that anthropological BS. Vamps thrive while we barely survive. His bite went from women being outright terrorized and screaming for their lives to a new level of an orgasmic squeal. And who wouldn’t, given the opportunity to be on the receiving end of these fine luscious lips? Look who we’ve had recently to quench our thirst, or theirs more appropriately?

I have 2 men in mind that I honestly can’t stake one over the other:

Angel; a vamp with a soul and seriously? The most incredulous smile I’ve ever drooled over and a bod to die for, literally! Any night of the week, baby! Currently Thursdays on Bones. Sorry, but I love David fangs or no fangs.

Then there’s my 2nd fav hottie; Mick St. John:  Moonlight. Friday nights just aren’t the same L 

Could someone please tell me why do all the awesome shows get cancelled? It’s not fair.

In retrospect, there’s one vamp out there that didn’t do it for me. Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Lestat in, An Interview With A Vampire. Sorry Tom. You aren’t a natural born killer.

“No picture for you!” said the soup Nazi. Any Seinfeld fans?

As far as books go I have my favorite authors who write a superb man of the night; Karen Marie Moning, Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Christine Feehan to name a few. At some point, hopefully sooner than later, you’ll be able to pick up Eden’s Black Rose and add Lucian St. James to your own list of hotties. (SP shameless plug #2) J

I started writing this wanting to find a definitive date where the vamps turned into the good guys but as aloof as they can be, so too are specific dates, unless you go as far back as George Hamilton’s spoof on Dracula, Love At First Bite,  made in1979. Who doesn’t love George, even if he is the tannest vamp in Hollywood?

These days there seems to be something for everyone. If you want thrillers Richard Roxburghs’s portrayal of the Count in Van Helsing had a sexy twist. This one’s for the guys… 2 on 1. Any man’s fantasy. Am I right?

Hell, even the women vamps are gorgeous. That movie left me feeling down right trodden with my reflection in the mirror. Something these creatures obviously don’t have to worry about. Suckers!

Must be nice to sleep all day and party all night. Add a little glamour to project a image worthy of luring innocents and have your beefcake and eat it too. Literally. 

Okayyy, twilight nears and the moon is in full bloom. I must go open my windows, dab a little Eden’s Black Rose perfume behind my ears  (my heroine in my book, Serina, makes this—SP #3 J) and await my dreams since I’m pretty sure that’s as good as it gets!

Sweet dreams to all of you.

Oh, in the spirit of Samhein, I went to my dentist to get my smile spruced up for all my little trick or treaters. My dentist, a quirky little man who never seems to age and whom I honestly love more than I remember as of lately, told me to sit back, close my eyes and after I felt a little pinch he’d give me a smile others would die for. Ya know, in retrospect, I should have wondered why the guy never aged, should have asked why he’d gotten so close to me when he had to numb me. Should have asked why his cool breath feathered across my flesh. Should have wondered why I felt like I’d been given a blast of happy gas instead of Novocain. Hmmm!

Happy Hauntings to each of you. A day we celebrate candy. Beware of land sharks. If anyone can give me the correct 2 teams to end up in the World Series and the correct winner, I'll give 1 free download of Eden's Black Rose when it becomes available.

Thank you,

Jaclyn Tracey,

Eden’s Black Rose

Here’s my before and after pics:

Before the dentist: 

After my visit with the dentist:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cryptozoological Creatures

The Jersey Devil-Sasquatch-Nessie-The Beast of Bladenboro-Chupacabra-Mothman
These are just a few of the creatures that have piqued the interest of young and old alike. People often scoff at these creatures, but are they so bizarre that they couldn’t exist?

Would anyone have ever believed we would find worms living at the bottom of the ocean near hydrothermal vents that don’t rely on photosynthesis for their existence. You know that food chain you learned in elementary the cycle of starts with plants...well, these little guys don’t need it. These worms use chemosynthesis to manufacture the energy they need. Encased in white tubes, the worms have bright-red, hemoglobin-rich gills. They use sulfides and other compounds toxic to us to make their food. These worms aren't the only organisms who live without the sun. Down in the cold depths of the ocean there's no photosynthesis going on whatsoever. These creatures thrive in this hostile environment with high heat and massive pressure as well as a chemical composition that would kill most terrestrial organisms in a second. But they’re very real...and very alive. Every week scientists are finding more. Who really knows what waits at the ocean’s depths? If these bizarre creatures exist, is it then such a stretch to believe in cryptids?

Cryptozoological creatures have been with us as long as humans have been recording history. Bigfoot is the big guy. Long before settlers came to the New World, multiple Native American tribes had legends of this creature. But he's not limited to the Americas. These bipedal creatures have been seen all over the globe and go by differing names, Yeti, Skunk Ape, there is also a smaller, similar creature, one of which has been dubbed Orang Pendek. Regardless, they’ve been seen from Scotand to Sumatra-high in the mountains, deep in swamps. To date, these hairy, bipedal creature continues to elude captors, but intriguing bits of hair, blood, dropping and, of course, prints, are constantly being added to the Big Foot database.

So what is a Cryptozoological Creature? It’s an animal assumed to exist, but we’ve yet to discover it, and we have many. Just take a look over at or and you’ll see a veritable plethora of strange and unusual creatures. There are terrestrial cryptids, many of these are Bigfoot-like, some are winged, two examples being Mothman, the huge, red-eyed winged harbinger of doom seen frequently in Point Pleasant, WV right before the catastrophic Silver Bride collapse. Also winged is The Jersey Devil of the NJ Pine Barrens. Another type are aquatic animals, the most famous being Nessie, but we also have Lake Champlain’s Champ, and Ogo Pogo, the Okanagan Lake Monster, and all of which have similar descriptions and evidence on film.

So, with all this research, why can’t we prove they exist? Perhaps they don’t or perhaps...they just don’t want to be found. There are enough uninhabited regions on this earth to hide these creatures, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, the wilds of West Virginia, the great woods of Oregon or the deep, dark Scottish Loch. Part of the interest is the mystery. So we hunt for answers, and have our own personal "X-files." Recently MonsterQuest has been launched on the History channel to investigate claims of these creatures. This is always an informative, entertaining show.

Do I think I’ll see Bigfoot, Mothman, or perhaps the Chupacabra someday? Maybe. There have been Bigfoot and Chupacabra sightings within twenty miles of my home. My grandfather saw something he called a devil goat (you can check out my post on the Cactus Rose Blog.) So maybe someday I’ll see something which raises more questions than answers. Something I wish I hadn't seen...Nonetheless, mysterious subjects make wonderful inclusions in novels and are always a subject of interest.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


All right, I admit it. I love Gremlins. They’re bad boys, they’re naughty, they’re fun, they give you that half-grin, half-smirk knowing smile, and I’m done. I’m gone. I don’t know exactly what’s coming but I know I’m going to love every moment of it and really, really hate myself in the morning.
Why? I mean, bad means bad, doesn’t it?
Not necessarily.
For one thing, Gremlins have a nugget of pure gold inside. They can turn on the charm and make you feel like you’re one in a million, the very best of the best. They bat those million dollar baby blues or those big browns that you want to drown in, and you’re hooked. Done. Gone.
For another, Gremlins are daring, they show no fear. Even when they know they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do, they don’t hesitate, they forge ahead, and damn the consequences.
Gremlins work on instinct and they always have a purpose, perhaps not the one we want them to have or the one we want to see because the end doesn’t always justify the means. And to be sure, they have a goal but they don’t always let us know that goal is.
But doesn’t that add to the mystique? Doesn’t that inability to predict add to the attraction?
Gremlins are winners and we love winners. Why? I guess because winners survive and we’re still dictated by our survival of the fittest gene.
So when you think about it, are Gremlins really that bad after all?
Do they remind you of anyone else?
Go back and think about all the qualities I just talked about. Wouldn’t you want your hero (or heroine) to be self-assured, a little naughty, daring, fearless, have a purpose but also have a heart of gold?
Gremlins are bad. We know they are. But they’re also really, really good. And those qualities are exactly what we mean by heroic. So go for it. Add a little Gremlin to your main characters. But watch out…you never know what they’ll do next. ~ Linda J. Parisi

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Werewolves in Ireland

Wolves no longer exist in Ireland, but this wasn’t always the case. Wolves once overran the island, causing all sorts of mischief. The Irish refer to the werewolf as faoladh or conriocht. The Irish legends aren’t based off the German myths. The werewolves weren’t man-eating creatures, but rather protectors. The wolves protect children, guard wounded men and have also guided a lost person to safety. Even today a wolf talisman is still believed to ward off evil.

In 1185, Giraldus Cambrensis wrote down the first werewolf tale, believing the story to be true. Serious, no lie, he believed every word. Giraldus spoke to Bishop of Ossory, giving his views about the incident. The Bishop then sends the information to Pope Urban III.

As the story goes...A priest was traveling from Ulter to Meath on an important mission with his assistant. The two stopped for the night in the woods where they come across a huge wolf. They’re frightened and would have run in fear, but the wolf speaks to them in a human voice. The wolf proceeds to tell them how St. Natalia, who was known to be ill-tempered, cursed the Ossorian people for sins they’d committed. Two Ossorians, a man and a woman would live in the shape of wolves for seven years. After they completed the cycle, they would return home and another couple would take their place. This wolf told the priest his wife was dying and wished the priest to give her the last rites. The priest does so and the wife dies peacefully. The wolf then tells the priest several prophecies about the English in Ireland. The priest promises to meet the wolf at a later date, but he never sees the wolf again.

Another legend tells how the Ossory people can change into wolves whenever they wanted. When an Ossorian became a wolf he would leave his body at home as if he were dead. He would leave strict orders with at trusted friend not to move the body. If someone moved the body and the wolf couldn’t find it, he would remain a wolf for the rest of his life. In his wolf form, he lost all human aspects and would attack sheep and cattle, as any other wolf would do. If surprised or attacked while eating, the wolf would run home to resume his human form.

In Irish folklore the werewolf motif is found throughout history. There are tales about wolf-men tribes that lived in County Tipperary. The ancient kings of Ireland would ask for their help when threatened by war. There are other tales about half-men, half-wolves living in the mountain regions.

In my story, Moon Shifter, the werewolves are the Mac Tíre, a clan who escaped being hunted down and killed under Cromwell’s rule.

I hope you enjoyed the tidbit about Werewolves in Ireland. If you’d like to learn more about my books, please visit me at my website: KMN Books. Of course, I’m known to frequent Facebook and Myspace and Twitter.

I’ll leave you with a sneak peek of Moon Shifter. May you have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Available Dec. 9, 2009 at The Wild Rose Press