Author Archives: Ronesa Aveela

Light Love Rituals

LIGHT:
One of the main characters in rituals and folklore is the sun. The symbol of life, the sun wakes nature in the spring to begin a new cycle.

LOVE:
Love is an important aspect of human life. It’s the feeling that makes us different from animals. Love enchants us and makes us good.

RITUALS:
Everyone incorporates some sort of rituals into their life and lifestyle. Rituals are an occasion for families to gather around the table and share a good meal, their memories, love, and traditions from generation to generation. Rituals connect the past with the present and help us embrace and understand our future.

rituals

There is no finer tradition than the making of Bulgarian cuisine, which is as rich as the soul of the Bulgarian people. Bulgarian meals, like the colors woven into the nation’s rugs, represent the hospitality and rich spirituality of its people. From the mystical Rhodope Mountains, the birth place of Orpheus, to the Thracian Valley, known for its roses, whether the dishes are light or hearty, they will always be savory.
“Light Love Rituals” describes many Bulgarian rituals that have survived through the centuries. The ones included within its pages follow the cycle of nature and of human lives. It is not meant to be a scholarly nor an exhaustive work. It is meant to provide readers with a glimpse into Bulgarian culture.

To enjoy an even greater taste of Bulgaria, try some of the recipes in the section called “Maria’s Kitchen,” where you can prepare popular Bulgarian dishes. Some of the recipes have a modern twist to make them easy and interesting to make.

Take the journey and experience the Magic of Bulgaria. On Amazon in February 2015.

 

Enchanting Samodivi (Wildalone)

In “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey,” you will discover samodivi (singular, samodiva), wild, wildalones beautiful nymphs, who have enchanted Bulgarians for centuries. They can be found in the woodlands and by water sources from spring until autumn. After that, they return to the palace of the Sun for the winter.

Numerous legends about them are still alive. In remote villages, people pay respect to them and are afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful songs. One of the people I met in an online writers’ group (scribophile.com) lives in a secluded village in Bulgaria. I asked him what the people there believed about the samodivi. Here is his response.

“The common belief in this village is that since we started having electric all the time, the samodivi went away. Apparently they were real and people would see them all the time, but it all stopped after they were freed from Turkish rule. In our village during that time the water was taken from wells or from a spring in the woods, so if you didn’t have a well you’d have to go to the woods. It was quite often that they saw shapes in the trees and believed them to be samodivi. Now a lot of the younger adults, the mothers and the father instead of the grandparents, believe that it is all legends, too many drunk nights. The people here still believe in creatures that come down with the lightning and stay as energy and run around even after the storm has passed. My next door neighbour claimed to have seen one running up his house last summer. But as for samodivi, they believe that they all vanished. It’s funny because I have been told that it was normal practice to run through the forest naked in hope that you’d find a samodiva. But after a few drinks, you might bump into someone else running naked and think you found one.”

In “Mystical Emona,” we don’t have people running naked through the forest, but the following passage from the book is our interpretation of what you might see if you happen to run across samodivi in the forest.

A soft, slow music drifted toward him as he neared the cheshma. Several women held hands and danced in a circle around the ancient walnut tree, a blue light glowing at its base. Wreaths of flowers crowned their unbound hair, their locks gliding over their shoulders. Their long white robes fluttered like lustrous moths under the shimmering moon.
(photo:nelinda.com “Samodivi”)

At the edge of the glade, a shadowy image, playing a long flute-like instrument, cast out eerie notes. They hung over the darkness like a delicate silk net, enfolding the women within its threads. The longer Stefan listened, the more the sound hypnotized him.

The tempo of the music quickened, and the women kept pace with it. Their feet danced through the dewy grass, while their bodies, bathed in silver and gold rays of moonlight, twirled closer together, narrowing the circle around the tree. Their dance became wild and erratic, their voices louder, filling the night with a chilling sound.

A final shrill note reverberated through the air. The women released hands, raised them to the sky, and began whirling in a frenzied torrent. The belts around their robes loosened and slid to the ground. As the note faded, the women lowered their hands. Their robes, too, slipped off and drifted away, leaving nothing on their gleaming bodies but the magical light of the moon. Stefan’s sharp intake of breath caught in his throat at their loveliness. Unable to tear his eyes from them, he envisioned the scene captured on canvas.

Then, the flutist played a soft melody. The women lifted their faces to the moon and sang strange words. Stefan listened in awe to the splendor of their voices, as their bodies, like exotic flowers gliding back and forth in the breeze, swayed to the rhythm of the trees. Their words encircled him, as if the women themselves surrounded him. He glanced around, but the night revealed nobody except the dancing women before him.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Silver Butterflies 

Behold the silent beauties ruffling winds,
spelling purity of a love so bold,
goddesses of water, woods and land,
swish their dresses upon your pool.

Vedra’s hands could raise the seas,
bring upon you draught or prosperity,
oh heaven behold, she was blessed,
with silky dresses and a voice so sleek.

Sweet Carina is ladened with lands,
to hold the minds of all mankind,
her thoughts dance upon the sands,
meaning to show a man his heart.

Dear Morena burdened the most,
to see the loss of those she loves,
always hunted by the future,
she’s to ever be your seer and guard.

Nymphs so pure, embrace the world,
call with golden songs to the skies,
listen as they guide you home,
listen as they hold your hand.

—Noor Lek

Travel to the world of the Balkans with Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey and discover the secret lives of Samodivi (Veelas, Samovili) or Wildalones. You’ve met these wondrous, mythological creatures or as some people called them “forest witches”  in different books. Now let Mystical Emona introduce you to Samodivi or “wildalones”  as legend portrays them. Discover the Magic of Bulgaria and the mystical spell of Emona.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

Making Your Book a Bestseller

Authors have to (MUST) spend as much time marketing their books as writing them.

Use the time between submission of your manuscript and the actual publication of the book to market the book and build a community of potential readers.

bulgarian_voices1Beyond including hard data in the book, include personal stories to connect with your readers.

Traditional bookstore appearances and signings can be expensive and don’t work as well as getting sponsors to buy your book in bulk in return for a free speech.

Good luck and don’t be discouraged! Persistence, collaboration, passion and hard work!

Ronesa Aveela

Join us in 2015 for another incredible journey of magic and discovery

2015 is here and this will provide new opportunities and challenges for all of us. Since we are like you, our readers, we need to make our own New Year’s Resolutions.

This year our resolution will be to make sure we build a community of people who are interested in learning more about our books and what we are writing, and help them discover the world of Emona.

I know, the online space is overflowing with information and new books are coming every second. Why should you care about reading our book? We are not writing another Harry Potter or Twilight. We have a unique story to tell you. We would like to share our knowledge with you and our passion about the topic we are writing about. It’s not just about promoting the book. We also want to introduce you to Bulgaria and its traditions and folklore. We want to help you discover the world of Sultana, Stefan, Maria, and others. We want you to meet the enchanting Samodivi.

We are dreamers and we believe in our story. It is unique and mystical. Join us in 2015 for another incredible journey of magic and discovery.

Anelia and Rebecca (aka Ronesa)

A Thread of Hope

 

Kalyna took the amulet off her ankle and wrapped it around Stefan’s wrist. “The martenitsa is given to others as a sign of friendship. It has the power to protect people from evil. The two colors have special meanings. White is for purity, honesty, and clarity. Red is symbolic of blood, life, passion, and love.”

The above is an excerpt from Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey (Chapter: “A Thread of Hope”).

Bulgarian culture is rich in folklore and traditions surviving since the days of the ancient Thracians. As pagan and Christian religions collided, the celebrations merged into one.

“Mystical Emona” introduces readers to these ancient Thracian customs, rituals, and traditions that have survived through the centuries.

MartenitzaToday, I’d like to talk about martenitsa (Bulgarian: мартеница). It’s an amulet or bracelet made of red and white yarn that symbolizes the arrival of spring.

This tradition dates back to Thracian times to welcome spring. Orpheus is said to have decorated his harp with such an item. After the long, dark winter, people are ready to awaken, to see the sunlight again and are full of hope and expectations. The colors on the martenitsa also date back to ancient times. Red is the symbol of the sun’s rays, as it becomes more intensive with the coming spring. White is the snow melting away. The two tassels twisted together provided both humans and livestock protection from the evil forces of the dying winter.

Bulgarians begin to wear martenitsi (plural) on March 1 (Baba Marta or Granny Marta Day). They continue to wear them until March 9, March 25, or when they see a stork, sparrow, cuckoo, or blossoming tree. At that point, people remove the bracelet and tie it to a tree to ensure good health and luck throughout the year.

March 25, Blagovets, is a special holiday. The family of my friend, and co-author, ties them to an apple tree in their backyard. They started this tradition fifteen years ago. The tree looks like it is covered with flowers. The red and white amulets dance in the cold winter wind like butterflies and remind them Spring is returning, bringing with it prosperity and hope for a better life.

“Mystical Emona” is available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

 

Thracian Guvetche (Pot) Cooking Style

A few weeks ago, we were invited to dinner to celebrate a friend’s name day, St. Michael’s (Archangel Michael). The evening was pleasant and helped us leave technology behind and have an engaging conversation while sitting around a table covered with a traditional Bulgarian meal: fresh baked bread (pitka), salads and a pie called “Phodope Mountain Klin.” It’s like a “banitsa,” but with different ingredients. One of the tastiest things I tried was some baked beans called “Smilanksi Beans.” Perhaps you’ll say, “What’s so special about baked beans?” Well they were prepared in a clay pot called a “Thracian Guvetche.” People cook beans, meat, feta cheese and vegetables in them. It’s a clever way to make a delicious meal.

Bulgarian ceramics are colorful and the designs are full of imagination. A classic type of Bulgarian pottery is called Troyan. Here’s a link to website where you can see some examples.
http://www.gyuvecheta.com/guvetche

In this post I won’t go any deeper into the beauty of Bulgarian ceramics, but I will tell you how tasty it is to cook a meal in this type of cooking pot. After the above-mentioned dinner, I wanted to try to cook something like that myself. When I got home, I searched for recipes online and through my old recipes. I finally found an interesting recipe online about how to bake “Smilainski Beans” in a Thracian Guvetche.

The problem was that I had broken the baking dish a few years ago. I looked through my cookware to find something similar. I found one, but it didn’t have a cover. Using my imagination, I made a cover from dough to create a meal in a pot, complete with fresh baked bread. The bread was delicious and the beans were cooked to perfection.

Pour yourself a glass of red wine, sit back, and enjoy a warm meal on a cold winter day.

beans

Bulgaria To Exhibit Thracian Treasures In Paris’ Louvre

Bulgaria To Exhibit Thracian Treasures In Paris’ Louvre – The exhibition “Antique Thrace – The Odrysian Kingdom” will feature the Panagyurishte golden treasure and 325 exhibits – mostly golden and silver items from various treasures. – The items in the exhibition were evaluated by insurers at EUR 165 M
Read more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/164888/Bulgaria+To+Exhibit+Thracian+Treasures+In+Paris%27+Louvre

Kukeri – Masked Men

If you are in Bulgaria on New Year’s or on Sirni Zagovezni, the first Sunday before Lent, you will be in for a fascinating parade and series of skits as the kukeri make their appearance. kukerThese are men who dress in furry costumes that cover most of their bodies, and they wear colorful wooden masks with scary faces of rams, goats, or bulls. The hand-carved masks display snapping jaws, twisted horns, and frightening eyes. Some masks even portray two faces—one evil and one good—to symbolize the duality of nature.

The men often attach to the masks shiny objects, such as mirrors, ivy (sacred to Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, and rebirth), basil (for love), and multi-colored threads and fabrics. Red symbolizes the sun’s fire. Black is the embodiment of the earth itself. And white signifies water and light. All three elements were essential for restoring the fertility of the land after a long winter. (photo credit: kafene.bg)

Like many of the Bulgarian traditions, this one also has Thracian origins. During the time of the winter solstice, ancient people believed that the heavens and earth were at their closest points and became one, allowing evil spirits to enter the realm of mankind. These spirits sought to bring chaos to the world by preventing the return of light, that is, the rebirth of the Sun God. Without the Sun’s return, the earth could not be fertilized. Therefore, Thracian warriors would don animal skins, which allowed them to contact the spirit world, enabling them to battle against the evil spirits. The celebrations that began with the Sun’s rebirth continued into ancient Dionysian rites symbolizing life, death, and rebirth, performed in the spring before the sowing of the harvest.

Stopping at houses along the route, the men perform various skits pantomiming plowing and sowing of seeds, rocking back and forth indicating heavy ears of corn weighing them down, jumping into the air to portray tall crops, rolling on the ground to draw on its strength, fighting evil spirits, as well as the conception and birth of infants. In return, they are given food (bread and wine, symbolic of the flesh and blood of pagan sacrifices) and money, which will later be sold and the money given to charities or to help offset the cost of the celebration.

While the kukeri dance and jump along the streets, large copper or bronze bells surrounding their waists clang loudly. (A single bell can be as large as a foot in diameter and weighing twenty pounds.) The noise from the bells, the frightful masks, and the mirrors on the masks are meant to chase away evil spirits. It is also done to ensure a plentiful harvest, good health, and happiness.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Link to an interview by the talented Rositsa Petkova of Bulgarian National Radio about the book, what was the inspiration and  there’s also a link to our book trailer:

http://bnr.bg/en/post/100485397/mystical-emona-where-ancient-legends-are-still-alive-to-this-day

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

 

Cultural Diversity

Today, we’d like to explore more about one reason why we wrote “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” It’s more than a tale about eternal love. As mentioned in the introductory blog, it’s also a story about the modern Bulgarian people and their culture.

This isn’t a discussion about religion. It’s about the activities people perform that are unique to their culture. Granted, the activities may take place during religious holidays, but they don’t necessarily have a religious significance, although often they do.

Why is understanding culture important? One reason is it defines who people are. The common experiences that people share influences their perception of the world and consequently how they behave with each other and those outside their community. bulgarian_voices1People who believe in evil spirits may be more cautious around others. In “Mystical Emona,” Maria is constantly giving Stefan charms to ward off the evil she believes intends to harm him. As an outsider, Stefan reacts differently to her actions than those who have lived with her in the village.

Is either of them right or wrong? No. Different cultures shaped their view of what evil spirits are, or if they even exist. Will living in a place that is vastly different from your own change your perception? Quite possibly, yes.

Then the question arises: Should people who move to another country forget about their heritage and immerse themselves in their new culture? Or should they retain the purity of their traditions, ignoring all else? Or perhaps a bit of both – creating new traditions from each culture?

There is no set answer. Everyone is different, so what works for one person or family may not be appropriate for another. Some beliefs may be so strongly ingrained into people’s personalities that no amount of time can erase them. While other beliefs may pass by the wayside, with people openly embracing new beliefs, or incorporating them into what they believe and creating new traditions.

Consider these thoughts about what culture does.

  • Provide comfort and security: Customs, traditions, and beliefs give people hope for a better life for themselves and their children.
  • Pass on cultural and religious heritage: Traditions are a great way to teach children about the family’s cultural and religious history, giving them personal identity.
  • Connect generations: Spending time with older generations is a great way to build memories and enables people to learn about beliefs, traditions, and heritage.

We’ll leave you with a quote from “Mystical Emona” where Peter is telling Stefan about Sultana, a znahar, a woman who heals with herbs. Many people considered her a witch. “When people don’t understand things, they call them bad. Miracles still happen, but you need to believe deep in your heart before you can experience them.” So, culture is about believing.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Modern Style Baklava

We love adorable ‪#‎Halloween‬ treats, but here is a simple and easy, modern style ‘baklava’. This is very popular dessert in Bulgaria. Baklava or baklawa is a rich, sweet pastry featured in many cuisines of the former Ottoman countries. It is made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or pistachios, and sweetened with syrup or honey. To explore more of the recipes from ‘Maria’s kitchen’ visit our blog. Learn about different Bulgarian and Mediterranean dishes, try the taste of Emona and Balkans. http://mysticalemona.com/baking/
Dont like sugar…. on our blog we have few dishes that are made with yogurt. Delicious and healthy…… explore and enjoy!

bread_pitka_template_baklava

Nestinarstvo – Fire Dance

Nestinarstvo (Bulgarian: нестинарство) is a ritual where people, predominantly women, dance on embers with their bare feet as a means to purify themselves with the fire’s healing powers. The Thracian word “nestia” means “fire.” Like so many Bulgarian customs, fire dancing incorporates both Orthodox and pagan beliefs.

It originated in remote villages in the Strandzha Mountains area, in southeastern Bulgaria. The celebration occurs on the Day of Saints Constantine and Helena, originally June 3, but now May 21. The ritual also celebrates the cults of the sun, fire, and water in order to bring fertility and health. Fire had protective powers and increased the sun’s divine power, and water had healing powers. nestinarkaEmperor Constantine I himself worshiped fire, and so he allowed the nestinari to perform their dance even after he legalized Christianity.

The celebration begins in the morning when people gather outside the home of the oldest dancer. They light candles and bow to the icons on the saints at the chapel that has been set up near the woman’s house. The dancer leaves her house when she hears the sound of kettle drums and bagpipes. She is pale and is already in a trance. Next, everyone goes to an ayazmo, a sacred spring, where they drink its healing water. The gathering continues to a meadow near the forest. Singing and dancing take place, and a fire is built.

“Nestinarka” Art by Nelinda.com

When evening arrives and the fire has turned to embers, those present form three or nine circles, which is associated with the Sun, the “Fire of Heaven.” They perform a chain dance, a horo, around the fire and kiss the icons of the saints that they hold. The dancers raise the icons above their heads as they enter the fire so they can dance on the embers without injuring themselves. The music begins to speed up and so does the dancing. Fire opens a door to the spirit world, the oldest of the nestinari sees the future of the village while she dances in her trance-like state.

The following in an excerpt about the Nestinarstvo from “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.”

As the fire died down to coals, people quieted. The smell of charcoal mingled with the salty air. Angelina looked at Kalyna, then put on a CD of bagpipes and kettle drum music. A heavy, slow folk song rose in the darkness. Everyone stood and encircled the coals. Then a man on the other side played a long flute-like instrument.

 Stefan started. “What’s that instrument? I think I-I heard that music in my dreams once.”

“It’s called a kaval. Shepherds often play them.” She wrapped her arm around his waist and nestled into his side. “The nestinarstvo, or fire dance, is fascinating. It’s a famous tourist attraction. Not too many people can do it, but it fills those who can with energy. Watch.”

Angelina loosened her hair and took off her sandals. With her eyes closed and her arms stretched out to the sky, she stepped onto the live coals. She danced to the slow rhythm of the music, her long white dress flowing around her.nestinarka

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Here is one interesting video from UNESCO to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ru506gJ1iI

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

“Magic in the night” Art by Nelinda.com

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

Music and Dance

Bulgarian folk music and dance are quite different from what Americans are used to. Dances are performed by men and women in lines or circles (horo). The performers wear traditional, colorful garments of primarily white, red, and black, embellished with much embroidery. The colors and designs have meanings. White and red represent the sky and earth, the marriage of the male and female gods of creation, while black is the destruction of the earth, when it is no longer fertile. Traditionally, the embroidered designs were not symmetrical because this was considered a diabolical creation. To have symmetry was to invite the evil eye.

The dancers move their feet in fast, intricate patterns, or at times, slow and deliberate ones. They often jump and shout while they twirl around a room.

The music has an eerie, hypnotic quality to it. Common instruments are the gaida (a bagpipe made from goat’s skin), kaval (a flute-like instrument), tupan (drum), and outi (stringed instrument). In “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey” Stefan hears someone singing in the forest when spring arrives. An excerpt follows:

The whistling of the wind sounded like a reverent song drifting out of the forest. He moved toward it, stopped, and spun around. The tune came from every direction, as if the forest itself sang a hymn of praise to the arrival of spring. Riveted by the music, he remained immobile until the last note drifted away like mist evaporated by the sun. So unlike any song he had ever heard, it filled him with peace, and he experienced a oneness with nature.

And in another scene, preparations are being made for a wedding – gaida, zurla (another type of flute), and tupan playing at the joyous celebration.

soare On that glorious wedding day, festivities abounded in the village. The aroma of roasting game from the magnificent feast mingled with the fragrance of flowers decorating the streets and houses. Joyous, mellow notes of zurlas joined wailing skirls of gaidas and the steady beat of sticks against tupans. Music vibrated through the air, drowning the clamor of the multitudes.

Combine the music with the lively dance, and get swept away to another place and time. Listen to the following to get a sense of what you might have heard had you been there.

Folk music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTmF2aCEJrY

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_gm0j1H1kc

Gaida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jccGfGBkky4

Kaval: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMpxFGUDgDI

Outi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZgSj7ko9do

“Mystical Emona” is available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

Interesting Facts about Bulgaria

While researching “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey,” I came across some interesting tidbits of information about Bulgaria and its inhabitants. They made me say, “What? No way.” Some of these are incorporated into the story; others may be used in future novels as the journey continues.

The Cyrillic alphabet was invented by two Bulgarian monks. Bulgarians are proud of this fact, and get quite annoyed with the rest of the world for attributing the alphabet to Russians.

First electronic digital computer was invented by a Bulgarian-American. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYup. Those devices we can’t live without today started with John Atanasoff in the 1930s. Although Atanasoff was American-born, his father emigrated to Aerica from Bulgaria.

Bulgarians created yogurt. Truly, they did. Way back in the time of the Thracians. I kid you not. You can find more than three hundred varieties in the country, and many popular dishes are made with yogurt.

Shaking one’s head in Bulgaria means “yes,” while nodding signifies “no.” Think of the nightmares that can cause. I read an article recently by someone travelling in Bulgaria who was approached by a gypsy. When the boy held out his hand for money, the man shook his head. This only encouraged the boy, who smiled eagerly. Believe me. It’s best not to tell a Bulgarian they have this backwards.

Bulgarians are more likely to celebrate their “name day” than their birthday. “Name day? What’s that?” you might ask. Originally, it was a feast day for a particular saint. So, anyone who had the same name, for example, “Maria” or “Mary,” would celebrate on August 15, the Assumption of Mary. Bulgarians have a lot of saints, so there is no shortage of days to celebrate name days. From what I could gather, way, way back, when people didn’t know what day they were born on (yup, I’m talking a long time ago), they took up this custom of celebrating the feast of the saints since they DID know their own names. So why not have a little fun to mark each passing year?

Bagpipes are played by Bulgarians. Nope, it’s not only done in the United Kingdom. The Bulgarian version is called a gaida.

Famous people with Bulgarian association: Mark Zuckerbuerg, creator of Facebook – his grandfather emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940. Tom Hanks, well-known actor – is married to a Bulgarian. Nina Dobrev, actress on “The Vampire Diaries” (well, maybe you don’t know her, but I like that TV series) – is a Bulgarian.

Those are a few of the things I learned about a country most Americans aren’t really even sure where it can be found. If you want to find out more about these people, their culture, and their beliefs, take a look at “Mystical Emona.” I hope you’ll find them as interesting as I did.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

Spotlight Blog Tour – John Fioravanti

Please welcome the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for October 2014, John Fioravanti.

John is the Author of A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching and Passion & Struggle.

Hello, I’m John Fioravanti, and welcome to the eighth post of my “Spotlight Blog Tour” sponsored by my family at Rave Reviews Book Club. I’m very grateful to be a guest today with Ronessa Aveela.

 

In December of 2013, my wife, Anne, and I launched Fiora Books as a book publishing house in alliance with Iceberg Publishing  also of Waterloo, Ontario. Previously, I had written a non-fiction book for high school students called “Getting It Right in History Class” (Data Based Directions, 2002). Five years later, I wrote the award-winning non-fiction book, “A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching” (Iceberg Publishing, 2007). This month we published my first science-fiction book “Passion & Struggle”. People have asked me why I switched genres. Good question…

 

FICTION Vs NON-FICTION

 

When I think back on it, there wasn’t a moment when I decided I wanted to write a book for publication. There was no sudden realization, “Hey, I want to be an author!” I just stumbled into it by trying to create skill guidelines for my students. For years, I duplicated the booklets I had written so my students could use them when I assigned writing projects in history class – including the formal research essay. One day, a colleague suggested I get them published. I thought about that, wrote letters to every major educational publisher I knew about – but no one was interested. Years after that, a former principal told me to contact a small educational publisher operating out of Barrie, Ontario – Data Based Directions. So I made the contact and the rest is history.

Four years later, out of the blue, my former student and dear friend, Kenneth Tam  visited me at the school. He and his parents had formed their own publishing house, Iceberg Publishing, in 2002. At that time, Kenneth launched his first Equations novel  and I served as Master of Ceremonies at the launch event. Four years later, Kenneth had four Equations novels under his belt, and he came to see me with a proposal. That visit culminated in the publication of “A personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching” in 2007. Again, I had not decided to write a book about my teaching career on my own. By the end of 2007, I had two published non-fiction books under my belt, and I had not made a conscious decision to become a published author.

However, that changed during the editing process of the Journey book. It was during the summer of 2006 that I had the fateful conversation with Kenneth about writing my own science-fiction series inside his Equations series. For the first time in my life, I made a conscious decision, not only to write a book – but an entire series!

Hey! Hold on for one darned minute here! What made me think I could write a novel? All my life, I’ve been an avid reader – mostly novels of all genres. In all that time, I never lost my admiration, no, awe, for the men and women who spin these yarns that keep me turning pages for hours. I often thought, how do they come up with these stories? How do they dream up these fascinating characters? It is such a gift! I often wished that I had that gift.

As I sat down at my computer to write the first lines of a novel I hadn’t named, I experienced a moment of near-panic. How do I do this? I must be certifiable! I needed to calm down… so I cleared out of my office and went for a short walk. I convinced myself that I was being silly, calmed down, and went back to my computer. I had been thinking about this for a couple of months before this particular day. I sat in front of a blank Word page and something remarkable began to happen.

Before I knew it, I had written a page and a half of the story. Where did that come from? My friend, Kenneth Tam, has a theory that our subconscious mind will work on problems that are bothering us and find solutions. When we are calm or relaxed enough, our conscious mind can connect with the subconscious and the ideas begin to flow. I’m convinced that this is the case. As the weeks and months went by, the story unfolded in ways I had never planned. You see, I’m a very unorthodox writer.

Best practice dictates that a writer will map out the story – plots, subplots, characters, etc. Then one writes the story. I have tried to do that and failed miserably. I sit in front of a sheet of paper and do more doodling than planning. Nothing pops into my head! However, if I sit at my computer and relax, I begin to picture scenes and then characters. The ideas begin to flow and I begin to write. I can’t explain the magic of a keyboard. Conversely, I can’t create with pen and paper. The best I can do with that medium is a grocery list!

Does the story written in this way turn out to be first and last draft? Nope! Not even close. I began to write Passion & Struggle in January, 2007. The present manuscript was not ready for editing until this past spring. Just over seven years! Lots of rewrites and transformations over the years. However, in that time I also drafted Book Two in the series – Treachery & Triumph. I don’t suggest that other authors should use my approach; but it does work for me.

Two weeks ago, my wife, Anne, came into my office while I was at the computer and stood there waiting for me to finish what I was doing. When she had my attention, she said she just wanted to tell me something. I thought I was in trouble… again! I was wrong. She told me that I was a very talented man because of the way I wrote P&S_CoverPassion & Struggle – which she had just finished proof-reading. She said she admired how I wove the various plots together and developed the characters. She thought I should know that, and then she left. I sat there, dumbfounded. Wow. I always thought those same things about the writers of the novels I’d read over the past five decades.

Fiction or Non-Fiction? I’m liking the fiction a lot more. I truly have fun writing these stories. I can twist the plots any way I like, create whatever characters I like, and do anything I want with them! But sometimes my characters react to a situation in a different way – not what I expected. I sit back, look at the computer screen, and say, “Hey! Who’s writin this dadgum story, anyway?? And then I laugh out loud!

So, check out my Passion & Struggle, and see what you think.

 

AUTHOR BIO

John Fioravanti is a retired secondary school educator who completed his thirty-five year career in the classroom in June, 2008. His teaching career was split between two schools: St. Benedict CSS in Cambridge, Ontario and St. David CSS in Waterloo, Ontario.

Throughout his career, John focused on developing research, analysis, and essay writing skills in his History Classroom. This led to the publication of his first non-fiction work for student use, Getting It Right in History Class (Data Based Directions, 2002), along with an international version of the same title. A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching  Iceberg Publishing, 2007, 2008, 2010) (Fiora Books 2014) is his second non-fiction work; it attempts to crystallize the struggles, accomplishments, and setbacks experienced in more than three decades of effort to achieve excellence in his chosen field.

John’s first work of fiction is Passion & Struggle and is set within Kenneth Tam s Equations universe (Iceberg Publishing). He claims that, after two non-fiction books, he’s having the time of his life bringing new stories and characters to life!

At present, John lives in Waterloo, Ontario with Anne, his bride of forty-one years. They have three children and three grandchildren. In December of 2013, John and Anne founded Fiora Books for the express purpose of publishing John’s books. After four decades of marriage, they decided to become business partners as well.

 

BOOK LINKS:

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O7X5SXK

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/passion-struggle

iBooks: https://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/wo/16.0.0.13.7.2.7.9.1.1.3.2.3.3.1.5.3.0.1

Book Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUqwuCcAEyU

CONNECT HERE:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/FioraBooks/516763875088924?ref=hl

Website: http://fiorabooks.com/

Twitter: @FioraBooks  + @jfinwat  (I have 2 accounts)

Tikvenik: A Little Taste of Bulgaria

Tikvenik: A Little Taste of Bulgaria

 

If you ever travel to Bulgaria, be sure to try a banitsa, one of the country’s most popular dishes. In “Mystical Emona,” this is one of Maria’s specialties. One reason for the dish’s popularity is that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Another is that it’s simple to make. Traditional banitsa is made with filo dough, feta cheese, eggs, and yogurt. However, since autumn has arrived, we’d like to introduce you to a special variety called Tikvenik (teek-vah-neek), pumpkin banitsa.

 

The recipe for this scrumptious meal follows, but first we’d like to tell you about an interesting tradition involving banitsa. To celebrate New Year’s Eve, Bulgarians make a banitsa with fortunes. The mother of the household makes lucky charms or fortunes (small sheets of paper on which wishes are written then rolled up and wrapped in foil). She places them inside the banitsa before it’s baked.

 

At the evening meal, each member of the family takes a piece that contains a fortune. An additional piece is reserved for God, to keep the house safe from bad luck. Each charm tells the person his fortune for the coming year: perhaps a new job, a new house, health, a wedding, and so forth. Bulgarians have many customs that focus on health and fortune, and protection from evil. Similar to this tradition is the more common one performed at Christmas. A coin (and sometimes fortunes) are baked into a bread (pitka). The person who get the coin will have good luck throughout the year. If the coin is found in the piece set aside for the house or God, then the entire family will be healthy and have good luck.

 

Tikvenik (type of Banitsa) is made with homemade or commercially made filo dough pastry sheets, sugar, nuts (optional), cinnamon, and butter. You can also sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it a little sweeter. And, of course, don’t forget the pumpkin.

tikvenik_web

It’s best to place the pieces of banitsa flat while they cool, rather than stacked. If you stack them, the ones on the bottom won’t be crispy. It’s fine to pile them up on top of each other once they have cooled. If you don’t like pumpkin you can use apples 🙂

Banitsa is delicious as a dessert or for breakfast with your morning coffee or tea. We hope you enjoy it.

Here is a video showing a variation of the above recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfrRdCxFECE

Enjoy!!!!

 

 

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Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway 2014

Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway 2014

The Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway is hosted by urban fantasy & paranormal romance author Ash Krafton…

More than FIFTY AUTHORS of fantasy and paranormal books are giving away books and swag. Hope you’re ready to start clicking and start winning because the Rafflecopters await!

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We are donating copy of “Mystical Emona” as well…. EXCITING!!!!

Discover Yogurt: Zucchini with yogurt-dill sauce

Bulgarians created yogurt. Truly, they did. Way back in the time of the Thracians. I kid you not. You can find more than three hundred varieties in the country, and many popular dishes are made with yogurt. Explore some of the recipes from Maria’s kitchen. Learn about different Bulgarian and Mediterranean dishes, try the taste of Emona and Balkans.

Discover Yogurt: Zucchini with yogurt-dill sauce

Zucchini with yogurt-dill sauce. Perfect for a hot summer’s lunch. Visit http://mysticalemona.com/baking/ to explore some of the recipes from Maria’s kitchen. Learn about different Bulgarian and Mediterranean dishes, try the taste of Emona and Balkans.

template_food_zucini

 

 

Creative Ways to Distribute Promotional Bookmarks

Short and sweet tips for authors on how to promote their books with a low budget.
Creative Ways to Distribute Promotional Bookmarks
June 2, 2014

bookmarksWe just got our bookmarks for “Mystical Emona.” Splendid image. Great quotes.
Now what? How can we get them to the people we would like to reach and promote our book?
I was talking to my daughter. She is a bookworm. She gave me some good ideas. Here are a few I would like to share:

1.       Check the events at local bookstore. If they have one in your genre, go there and hand out your bookmarks. These are the people who may like your book.

2.        Check local libraries and see if you can drop some of your wonderful bookmarks off there.

3.       Don’t forget the second-hand bookstores. A lot of readers go there looking for bargains.

4.       Gift Books – Give a copy of your book to friends and family members who like books. Put some of your bookmarks inside the book.

5.       Leave some on a commuter rail station. A lot of people like to read on their way to their job and may be looking for a good book.

Please share your ideas. How and where you are distributing your bookmarks?

Yours fellow authors : Rebecca & Anelia

Write, Research, Edit, Rewrite, Edit. Then what? MARKETING?

Write, Research, Edit, Rewrite, Edit. Then what? MARKETING?
May 18, 2014

bookmarks

As soon as I started thinking about what goes into publishing a book, I discovered I had a lot of homework to do.

On top of time spent at your day job, you have to write, edit and rewrite your novel. When you think it’s ready for the world to read, you then have to MARKET it. Well, you should consider marketing it even BEFORE you finish writing.

I think about marketing in terms of Six Sigma. For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, in general it’s a simple, practical way to solve problems. I recently finished a training course on this process. The first rule of Six Sigma is to define your problem. Then you gather information, perform analyses, and finally propose a solution.

So, how does this relate to marketing? Simple. You have a problem, and you want to come up with a solution. Start with a statement defining your problem.

Problem Statement: I have an idea for a book. I’ve written it, or I’m in the process of writing it, or I’ve even finished writing it. The problem is that I want to publish and sell as many copies of this wonderful book as possible. How do I go about marketing it so people will want to buy it?

A simple formula could be written as follows, with the question marks indicating the missing piece of the solution. The arrows designate that one event follows the other.

Write Book (Input) > ??? > Sell Books (Output) > Sell More Books

The initial input is your book, regardless of its state of completion. The end result or output is to sell the book. How do you fill in the missing information in the middle, to get from writing the book to selling the book? You need to build a BRIDGE.

To build the bridge, you need TOOLS. Now all you have to do is find those tools. The good news is, many of these tools and resources are FREE.

Once I started looking into possible marketing tools, my list grew long in a short time. I was amazed at the marketing possibilities and resources available.

Social Media: Start building social profiles on major networks. Interact with readers and writers alike. Allocate at least one hour a day to be socially active online. Build your visibility and brand. I will write more about building your online brand in a later post.

Your Family: YES, your family. Let them know you’re writing a book. They can help you and support you. Believe me, you’ll need a lot of support … and coffee. J

Your Friends: People are friends because they’re here for us when we need help. Let them know you’re writing a book. Ask them to share ideas with their friends. Ask for comments, feedback, and maybe even a beta-read. If they’re truly your friends, they’ll be there for you.

Online Resources: It’s 2014. An unbelievable amount of content is available online. Search for what other authors, especially successful authors, already do, like book trailers and blogs, Ask them questions, especially those authors writing in the same genre as you do. You’ll be amazed how much further you can go if you just ASK questions. People are willing to help.

I know it sounds like a lot of work on top of writing, researching, editing, and working full time. But think of the possibilities. Use the tools of a good time-management system to automate your online posting. Then, please SHARE how you market your book and how you’ve reached out to your target audience. We all have the same goal: SELL OUR BOOKS.

Yours fellow authors : Rebecca & Anelia