Friday, May 24, 2013

Contributing Editor, Dan Matlaga: YOU ARE SURROUNDED

You are surrounded by four simple words.  Four words probably picked up sometime between third and fifth grade.  The words are: West, South, East, and North.

Does it grate to list these four words with West as the first on the list instead of North?  Have no fear.  It will not be part of your permanent record if you do not list north as the first on the list.

If asked what these four words mean, nearly everyone from grade school through graduate school will answer "directions”.  If you thought "directions”, you must understand when you were in school you were taught definitions not meanings.  Directions are the definition of the four words, but not the meaning.

What do we put in bread dough so instead of the dough remaining flat it gets taller?  The answer is Y-E-A-S-T.  Note the word east in the word yeast.  We put yeast in bread dough to make the dough "rise”.

The word East means to raise, after all the sun, moon, stars and planets all seem to rise in the East.  You knew East means to rise even before breakfast this morning.  You have heard of the word "Easter”, which means to rise.  If you lived in Europe several centuries ago, there was a goddess named Esther.  It was Esther's job to make the plants rise from the ground each spring.  An observer can determine if the goddess pictured in the painting before them is the goddess Esther because she is always depicted either holding or surrounded by rabbits.  These animals were known as Esther's rabbits, the origin of the modern symbol of Easter rabbits.

If "east" means to rise, "west" means “to go down.”  The meaning of these two words simply reflects what is happening in the sky.  Celestial objects appear to rise in the east and go down in the west.

South has the sense of “the place of the sun”.  When the sun is in the south it is as high as it can be for that day.  Instead of writing “the place of the sun” on our maps, it is easier to write south. 

Of the four words north is perhaps the most interesting.  If we translate the word “north” into English, it means “left”, as in left and right.  In order for north to be on your left, you must face the east.  The Latin word for “left” is the word sinister, which means evil.

Why is north thought of as evil?

To understand this you have to pay attention to the daily weather report. When cold arctic air moves out of Canada and quickly heads south creating snow in Louisiana, citrus crops freeze in Florida, this cold weather front is known as the Arctic Express.  This is not just an American phenomenon.  Several decades ago hundreds of Europeans died when an Arctic Express covered much of Europe.

Picture This:

It is a dark and stormy night 9th century in Europe.  You want to find directions. What can you do?  The magnetic compass hadn't reached Europe yet.  It is dark and stormy so no hint from the stars.  You can find north by looking for the local church.  Back in “the good ol’ days”, churches had their front doors facing east.  Well, not exactly east.  If the church was dedicated to St. Sophia, the patron saint of wisdom, for example, the church would be
shifted slightly north of east.  This to allow on August 6th, the feast day of Saint Sophia the first rays of the rising sun to pass through a special window and illuminate the center of the alter on the other interior side of the church.  Another word for east is “orient, this slight shift of the church known as its orientation, is how the word “orientation” entered the English language.
It is difficult not to notice we are dealing with opposites.  Not just in the words, but their meanings as well: North (cold), South (hot), East (rise), and West (set).  The question is: “Where do these opposites meet?”

It must be a difficult question to answer with our Western civilization view of things because having given this topic in over 700 lectures, there was only one student who was able to answer correctly.  The student was from the Navajo reservation, well steeped in Navajo traditions.  He explained it was an easy question to answer because the Navajo sees himself or herself as part of nature. 
He went on to explain Western minds see themselves above nature so no doubt students might picture a map, or the Earth suspended in space. 

What answer did the student from the Navajo reservation give?

Without skipping a beat after the question was asked “Where do these opposites meet?  His answer was: “They meet wherever you are.”

Something as simple as West, South, North, and East… words learned as “directions” sometime between third and fifth grade have a considerable cultural slant once you decide to put your curious mind to work.

Thank you so much, Dan.  Another fabulous, thought provoking and educational post.  Really, can't thank you enough for sharing this with us.  Your vast knowledge is truly awe inspiring!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So Happy To Be A Part Of Michael Bray's World-Wide-Book-Tour!

Author Michael Bray Is Visiting Us On His Book Tour Today!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Michael!  If you would, please share a little of your advice and experience for anyone wishing to begin a writing career, that may not be quite sure where to begin.  

Just Do It!

For the budding author, the idea of taking the plunge into tackling writing a book can be a daunting task. I should know, it took me 14+ years of indecision before I convinced myself that it was something I wanted to try. In hindsight, I hate that I wasted so many years chewing over it, because as I write this now on an icy March morning in the UK, I can hand on heart say it was the best decision I ever made. 

Is it hard work? Of course it is. But that only makes the rewards for completing the book all the sweeter. A few people have said to me recently that they don’t think they could ever write a book for their own, and have even offered me their ideas to turn into stories.

Universally and without exception, I decline, and advise the person to at least give it a go for themselves. If they need assistance, I’m happy to share what I know (even though as writers we never stop learning), but that they should at least try.  Make no mistake, it won’t be easy. Completing a novel is an exercise in discipline, commitment and patience. But when that time comes, be it months or years down the line when you look at your work and can proudly say to yourself that it’s finished, it is a feeling unlike anything else.

A few years ago, I could never imagine being able to write a book, and yet here I am now with Three already released (including my first feature length novel WHISPER) and another two in the pipeline. Yes it takes dedication, and yes its hard work, but when you reach that place where the story is writing itself, and you become something of a passenger as the story unfolds, is the greatest feeling in the world.

In closing, to anyone reading who thinks they have an idea but not the confidence to write it, I say: YES YOU CAN! Turn off the TV, ignore the phone, lock yourself away and start writing. You never know, you might surprise yourself.

Good Luck!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself and your books?

My latest novel, Whisper, is out now in both paperback & Kindle through Amazon, Smash Words, Barnes & Noble etc. also, I am always looking to speak to people who like my work, so drop by on Facebook and say hi if you like J

Book Blurb:

It was supposed to be a fresh start, a place for Steve & Melody Samson to start their new life together away from the noise and crime of the city. However, their new home an idyllic cottage nestled deep within the dense solitude of Oakwell forest has a disturbing history, hidden for generations by the local villagers, who are desperate to keep their sleepy town free from
potential media attention. As Steve and Melody begin to notice the strange and bizarre things that are happening to them, they begin to unravel the complex web of lies and deceit perpetrated by the locals. Told both in a modern day narrative and flashbacks to the Buildings construction in the 1800's, we learn of the terrible things that reside within Hope House, and
the reasons for the history of murder, suicide and insanity for the previous owners of the house.  As Steve and Melody delve ever deeper, they are plagued by not only the malevolent forces that reside within the house, but also the very real attention of the increasingly unstable realtor Donovan, who has horrific secrets of his own that he will go to any lengths to keep a secret.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

I tend to post a lot of my news over on Facebook
My works are also available through my Amazon author page, which can be located here:
U.K: Amazon UK
U.S: Azazon US

Thank you so much for stopping by today Michael and best of luck on Whisper, your world-wide-book tour and all of your upcoming projects.  We will be sure to look for you and keep in touch!  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Welcome Guest Author, A.J. Locke!

Today we welcome this week's Guest Author, the lovely and talented A.J. Locke!  Thank you for joining us today A.J.  We are anxious to hear all about your novel, Affairs of the Dead and your very interesting main character, Selene.

I’d like to thank you, Marie, for having me on your blog today. 

I thought it would be fun to do a short character interview with Selene, the main character of my novel, Affairs of the Dead, so you could get to know her a little bit. Here goes!

   1.      A.J.:  What do you do on your days off?

Selene:  This would be assuming I have days off! Lately even my weekends are swallowed up by work, but I’ll tell you what I’d love to do on my next day off, hit up that strip club Bump and Moan with a few girlfriends. This time it will be for non-working reasons.

   2.      A.J.:  If you weren’t a necromancer what would you be doing for a living?

Selene:  Becoming a working necromancer is actually what gave my life some direction after my grandmother died, so I think if I hadn’t gone down this path I’d probably be working in the Underground doing illegal things. Or I’d be a circus clown in a traveling show.

   3.      A.J.:  Favorite time of day?

Selene:  Any time I don’t have a whiny ghost harassing me to track down his stolen body. So I guess I don’t have a favorite time of day at the moment.

   4.     A.J.:  If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you bring?

Selene:  I’d bring one thing: a boat. Then I’d row home.

   5.     A.J.:  Boxers or briefs on men?

Selene:  Neither ;)

   6.      A.J.:  Best date you’ve ever been on?

Selene:  I’ll have to get back to you on that one. You know, when I actually have a good date to talk about.
    7.      A.J.:  What do you love most about your job?

Selene:  There’s never a dull moment with working with ghost clients, the things I end up doing to settle their affairs are always different, even a little bizarre sometimes. I love working at a job that’s challenging, even if those challenges can be a real bitch sometimes.

Hope you enjoyed that little insight to Selene!

Yes, very much so!  Now let's take a look at Affairs of the Dead!




Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die…

Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she’s bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible—if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene’s partner, didn’t pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.

But when the whole mess puts Selene’s life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan’s body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don’t follow the rules…


I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging, but not impossible. It was just extremely taxing on the necromancer extraordinaire (me) who had to channel energy into the ghost to make her corporeal enough to entice one of the stripper boys. Technically what I was doing was illegal, but it was my job to help ghosts settle their affairs so they could move on to eternally ever after, and Julia’s unfinished business was that she’d died a virgin. I’d made it as easy as I could for her by starting at a strip club; if she couldn’t get some here, I wasn’t sure how much lower I could scrape the barrel.

Julia’s prolonged virginity was an enigma to me, even though she told me that she’d been waiting for her soul mate. I just didn’t understand why that meant she couldn’t hit up a bar, get drunk, and have a fun, regret-filled weekend that included the walk of shame. At least she’d have been in better shape once soul mate came around.

 “What do you think about him?” I asked, pointing to one of the three oiled up men who were gyrating for the benefit of all the screaming women. He had blond hair and green eyes, and wasn’t overly muscular. Julia looked at him then quickly looked away. I took that as a sign of approval.

“I think this was a bad idea,” she stammered.

“This was a fantastic idea,” I said. “And it will work, don’t worry.”

“No, I mean, I don’t think I can do this. I waited my whole life for my soul mate and now you want me to just—” she stole another quick look at the stripper, “I don’t think I can do this with some random…stripper man. It’s so indecent.”

I rolled my eyes. “Julia, you’re a ghost; you no longer have the option of being discerning. And if you don’t wrap up what’s keeping you around, you run the risk of turning into a monster. Then it’s an even bigger pain in the ass to get rid of you. So let’s call our efforts here at Bump and Moan choice A, and murderous monster choice B. Which choice would you like to make?”

“A,” Julia said, but she didn’t sound happy about it. I smiled, and grabbed a couple drinks off the tray of a passing waitress. I set them down in front of Julia.
“Drink,” I said. “This will help.”

“I’m a ghost,” she said. “I thought I was unable to eat or drink.”

 “You can feel the effects of the alcohol since you’ll be working off my energy, so drink up. I’ve pegged you as a light weight so I think two drinks will be enough.”
“But how is this supposed to help?” she asked, frowning.
“Because its job is to help,” I said.

Thank you again for joining us A.J. and the very best of luck to you (and Selene) with Affairs of the Dead.  Please come back and visit again anytime and in the meantime, we will keep up with you on your blog and other links.  

Buy Links

Author Links
Blog: Blog
Twitter:  @maqueripe
Goodreads: Goodreads

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome Guest Author, Shehanne Moore with "The Unraveling of Lady Fury"

Good Morning Shehanne and thank you for joining us!  I love the book cover for "The Unraveling of Lady Fury" and can't wait to hear all about the story that goes with it!

Dae it wi yer buits oan.

    “I don’t know. Ma always said—”
     “Ma? What is this, old wives tales now? Next you’ll be telling me that if you’d kept your boots on, or I stood on my hands in the washbasin there, it would be a boy. Ma. Excuse me, I’m getting—”
   “She was a midwife—before she was a whore,””

Firstly I want to thank Marie for asking me here today. Secondly l I swear to behave. Thirdly I want to say what a truly inspirational person Marie is. That her brother’s book is out is down to her in the first instance and I applaud that.

Okay, so...secondly? Well, secondly maybe I should substitute swear for try.  I don’t know if it possible given what I’ve just said about daeing it and buits if it is possible to fully behave. Not when the translation of these words is doing it and boots. I am sure you can guess what the oan is.  The yet too. Since my new release The Unraveling of Lady Fury centres round the heroine desperately needing to conceive an heir, it’s not hard to guess I will be looking at old wives tales. 

 Lady Fury actually has a thing about the hero’s boots ruining her lovely 
silken damask bedcover. It’s enough to make her consider reviewing her rules on being fully clothed. Had she lived in my native city, that’s the advice she would have been given re the boots. . Although she’s not bothered whether it’s a girl or a boy she has, keep ‘em on and apparently a boy results. Yes. 

How’s this from Hungary?  Having sex on the night of a quarter moon guarantees a boy. I wonder what a full moon guarantees there? A were-wolf?

Or from Greece? Eating honey guarantees a boy.

This one from nowhere in particular was probably written by a man. Seduce him.

Flint, in a bid to elevate himself to grander accommodation and get Fury to renegotiate that ten rule contract, she slaps on him, starts spouting old wives tales he could have read straight off Google. Things about getting on top to have a boy. And getting particular food to eat.  He’s starving nothing more so he makes things up on the spot. Dare she disbelieve him though? Even though she wants to.

Let’s face it; people can get really nervy about conceiving. It’s a primal thing close to the hearts of most human beings.  And they can get desperate enough to believe, to try anything.—although Fury is just desperate to get rid of Flint.  But it gave me the idea as the book progressed to have a bit of fun. How far would you go? How much would you believe?   

And actually some of his old wives tales, about lying down afterwards are common sense. So obviously the old dearies weren’t as daft as all that!


   She held up a hand. “Before you say another word, as I know you’re going to do, I know how much you dislike me. How much you pretend. Since the feeling is mutual, I think it’s best.”
    In some corner of her soul, that wasn’t all that far, she knew this wasn’t the way to proceed and hope she would keep him, with his mile-high pride. But it was astonishing to think he believed he could do all that to her and she would still hold a candle in her heart for him. It didn’t matter he didn’t know all he’d done to her, which was maybe why he thought certain flames still burned.
  “What about you getting on top?”
   “Oh, I’ve been doing some research into that.”
  “And do you know—I never would have believed it—but it transpires that lying on my front is as good a way as any to conceive a boy. So long as you don’t stand up.”
Where she got this from she didn’t know. But she thanked heaven for it anyway.
  “You saying Ma was wrong?”
  “I’m not saying anything. I’m sure she was right, a knowledgeable woman like her. But, as you always used to say to me aboard the Calypso, there’s more than one way of being right.”


Rule One: There will be no kissing. Rule two: There will be no touching…

Widowed Lady Fury Shelton hasn’t lost everything—yet. As long as she produces the heir to the Beaumont dukedom, she just might be able to keep her position. And her secrets. But when the callously irresistible Captain James “Flint” Blackmoore sails back into her life, Lady Fury panics. She must find a way to protect herself—and her future—from the man she’d rather see rotting in hell than sleeping in her bed. If she must bed him to keep her secrets, so be it. But she doesn’t have to like it. A set of firm rules for the bedroom will ensure that nothing goes awry. Because above all else, she must stop herself from wanting the one thing that Flint can never give her. His heart.

Ex-privateer Flint Blackmoore has never been good at following the rules. Now, once again embroiled in a situation with the aptly named Lady Fury, he has no idea why he doesn’t simply do the wise thing and walk away. He knows he’s playing with fire, and that getting involved with her again is more dangerous than anything on the high seas. But he can’t understand why she’s so determined to hate him. He isn’t sure if the secret she keeps will make things harder—or easier—for him, but as the battle in the bedroom heats up, he knows at least one thing. Those silly rules of hers will have to go…

Buy links:

(extracts copywrite Shehanne Moore, Etopia Press.)