Category Archives: Writers

Ronesa’s 2015 Excellence in Writing Awards: Top-Five Picks

Have you read a good indie book lately? No? Why not? Independent and small-publishers have produced books vastly superior to many of the Big Five super-hyped books. The difference why our books are not as widely read vs. the Big Five boils down to marketing and reviews. The Big Five has tons of money and lots of clout. Many places refuse to review indie books, without even giving this vast group of wonderful authors a chance. We have to scrounge for reviews and tout our own horns. I’ve read a lot of books this year, and none have been the “popular” ones. Here’s my list of favorite authors I’ve read this year. I’ve read so many that my selections are based on authors who are exceptional and ones I’ve read more than one of their books. So here goes, in order of when I discovered the writing of these fabulous authors.

 

Jana Pelken

I LOVE all of Jana’s books. I’ll read anything further she writes, without looking at the book blurb. I’m a big historical fiction fan, and after reading “The Errant Flock,” I was hooked on Jana’s writing. She takes you back in time to whatever era she writes about. This particular book is set in 1491, in Valencia, Spain, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. A quote from my review: “From beginning to end the author’s extensive research about how the people lived permeates the fine details of the story as well as the overall setting of the time.”

The Errant Flock by Jana Petken2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Jana Pelken’s Amazon author page for all her books, including “Guardian of Secrets” and the Mercer Carver series: http://www.amazon.com/Jana-Petken/e/B00I2WAUVC/

Or visit her website: www.janapetkenauthor.com

 

C.N. Lesley

What brought my attention to C.N.’s writing was the word “Avalon.” As well as being a historical fiction fan, I read whatever I can about King Arthur, whether it’s historical or fantasy. C.N. takes gives the Arthur legend a new twist: sci-fi. This Shadow series of books (“Shadow over Avalon” and “Sword of Shadows”) is set far into the future. I’ve only read two of them because, alas, the third book has not yet been published. I’m eagerly waiting for its release. A quote from my review: “ ‘Sword of Shadows’ is more than a sci-fi rendition of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, however. It has a deeper meaning about how our lives are destroyed by the gods we let rule our lives–whether it is technology or otherwise.”

Shadow over Avalon by CN Leslie2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out C.N. Lesley’s Amazon author page for all her Shadow series books, as well as others, including “Darkspire Reaches”: http://www.amazon.com/C.N-Lesley/e/B00HTV3GV8/

Or visit her website: http://cnlesley.com/

 

Hannah Howe

Love a good detective story? Then you’ll want to dive into Hannah’s Sam Smith series. You’ll love enquiry agent Samantha Smith. She’s perfect in her imperfections. Abused as a child and even more so as a wife, Sam lacks confidence in herself, except when it comes to solving crimes. In that respect, she dives head first, or sometimes “foot-in-mouth” first into her work. You’ll love this spunky, petite woman, bent on improving the world and her own self. The books in the Sam Smith series have deeper meaning than pure entertainment. Be it prostitution, eugenics, drug abuse, insanity, or other social issues, the books delve into the human psyche. (And “The Hermit of Hisarya” takes place in Bulgaria, so I HAD to read that one.)

The Hermit of Hisarya by Hannah Howe2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Hannah Howe’s Amazon author page for all the books in the Sam Smith series: http://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Howe/e/B00OK7E24E/

Or visit her website: http://hannah-howe.com

 

Mansel Jones

It was a tossup which of Mansel’s books to include here. Since I’ve already discussed Arthur above, I opted to write about “Tangwstyl: A Medieval Mystery” instead. Nope, I can’t pronounce “Tangwstyl” either, but that doesn’t distract from reading the book. This is another historical fiction masterpiece. The setting is Kenfig (in Wales) in 1399. It weaves the story around a prophecy about Tangwstyl, the daughter of the future “Arthur.” (Okay, so it does have a slight Arthurian theme.) The story doesn’t have a lot to do with Tangwstyl. Her birth is rather the catalyst that eventually leads to an uprising. The book covers a span of eight days, but they are packed with historical fact and depict the struggle against the Church and unjust kings.

Tangwstyl by Mansel Jones2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Mansel Jones’ Amazon author page for all his other books, including “Pendragon”: http://www.amazon.com/Mansel-Jones/e/B0044RKLZO/

Or visit his website: http://jonesthebook.com/

 

Ellie Midwood

Set in Germany during WWII, “The Girl from Berlin” series is told from the perspective of a fictional woman who becomes Nazi Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s mistress. The problem is that he hates Jews, and she has hidden from the world the fact that she is a Jew. To appreciate this series of books, you have to be able to distance yourself from the Nazi atrocities, and look at the events from a more historical aspect. What is the other side of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the one that a woman who loved him would see? What can you make of his proclamation of innocence of atrocities at the Nuremberg trials? These books attempt to answer those questions.

The Girl from Berlin by Ellie Midwood2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Ellie Midwood’s books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-Standartenf%C3%BChrers-Wife-ebook/dp/B015BNZWNK/

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-Gruppenf%C3%BChrers-Mistress-ebook/dp/B016FTEU14/

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-War-Criminals-Widow-ebook/dp/B018L3WM6C/

 

April Adams

I know. I said my top-five picks, but here’s a bonus look at my favorite series of books I read in 2014. “The Legends of Runes” trilogy is a fantasy. The world needs a savior. Will this role fall to the battered woman who can’t recall who she is, but finds herself in a magical place? From my review of “Shattered,” the first book in the series: “This fantasy has your traditional gathering of elves, gnomes, and such, but it has a religious twist that makes it fall along the lines of C.S. Lewis stories. The world building includes lands where the elements reign supreme: wind, fire, water and earth.”

Shattered by April Adams2014 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out April Adam’s Amazon author page for all her books in “The Legends of Rune” trilogy: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G/

Or visit her website: www.writerapriladams.com

 

 

Mermaids, Silver Butterflies, and Miracles

“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Mankind’s fascination with the sea has sparked imagination since the first person beheld its mighty waters. Curiosity led people to invent the means to travel across the great oceans and eventually explore beneath them, trying to discover their secrets. Throughout the centuries, millennia in fact, people have created myths and legends about creatures living within the sea’s depths. One of the most alluring and formidable beings to inspire writers, artists, children, and adults is the mermaid, who entices men to a watery death. Mermaids have been forever immortalized in stories such as Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” but there is more to them than that story tells.

John William Waterhouse: A Mermaid – 1901

John William Waterhouse: A Mermaid – 1901

These sea nymphs exist in Slavic folklore as well and are called Rusalki. Believed to be the souls of young women who have drowned, they often appear as white or silver butterflies, which in many cultures symbolize the soul.

Although their sisters of the forests, the Samodivi, may be more popular in Bulgaria, it’s the Rusalki who have an entire week dedicated to them: Rusalijska Nedelya, or Mermaid Week, starts on Pentecost.

On Rusalska Sunday, Rusalki leave the deep waters to walk in meadows, spreading dew upon the soil to fertilize the land. People don’t work in fields or vineyards during this week as a way to honor the nymphs for the life-giving waters they bring. Whenever anyone dares to venture out during the week, he tucks wormwood, garlic, and walnut leaves inside his shirt, or attaches them to a belt, to protect himself from the Rusalki, as well as other creatures or spirits that may be wandering about the forests, mountains, or water bodies. Sensitive to strong smells, Rusalki avoid those carrying such herbs and flowers.

Just as important, people refrain from bathing or washing clothes on this day to prevent Rusalki from dragging them into the depths of the water and drowning them.

Burning Bush (dictamnus albus)

Burning Bush (dictamnus albus)

On Wednesday and Friday of Mermaid Week, Rusalki gather in groves where their favorite flower, the Burning Bush (dictamnus albus) grows. Its Bulgarian name is rosen, which means dew. These places are holy and sacred to the Rusalki. They pluck the tips from the flowers to place in their hair. The flower’s fragrance is intoxicating like a drug. Thus adorned, the nymphs worship nature with their magical songs and dance.

While wearing rosen, Rusalki become kindhearted and often heal those who sleep in the meadow. One famous place is the village of Resen, which gets its name from the flower. Sleeping in the meadow is not enough to ensure a cure, however. People perform a special ritual called “walking on the dewy rosen grass.” The sick go to the meadow in the evening, being careful not to let anyone see them. They each find an isolated place amidst the flowers and eat their evening meal. Then, before sunset, each one spreads a white handkerchief next to them. They cover their heads and remain silent, drifting off to sleep.

During the night, the Rusalki arrive, bearing their queen on a chariot of human bones. Those who may still be awake claim they hear laughter and songs. If a person who has lost a limb is among those gathered, the Rusalki may say, “Restore (person’s name) leg.”

At sunrise, the sick check their handkerchiefs. If empty, it means the Rusalki chose not to cure the person. For those the nymphs decide to grant the person a miracle cure, they leave various objects. The person mixes it with water and drinks it slowly. Dirt left on the handkerchief is a sign the person will die from their disease.

Regardless of what the nymphs leave or don’t leave, everyone places pitka (ritual bread) on the handkerchief for the Rusalki when they return. Pitka holds a special place in all Bulgarian rituals and holidays. It is broken, not cut, because it’s believed the bread itself has a soul.

The Rusalki are not the only ones to perform healing during Mermaid Week. At one time, on Sunday, rusalii, men who got their name from Rusalki, went from village to village healing the sick with their ritual dance. In particular they healed those whom the Rusalki had cursed, often those who chose to work during their sacred week. It was taboo for the men to talk, make the sign of the cross, or step in water because they were in a semi-trance, linking them to both the human and spiritual worlds. Armed with a white flag decorated with herbs, a special colorful stick, caps with herbs entwined, bells attached to their ankles, and a pot of vinegar and garlic, they were prepared to cure the Rusalki-induced illness. (You can see a re-enactment of this ritual in Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.)

Image of Rusalii

Image of Rusalii

To learn more Bulgarian traditions, beliefs, and rituals, check out Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore, available on Amazon or http://www.mysticalemona.com.

The Heartbeat Thief

The Heartbeat Thief Blitz Banner

 

 

 

 

 

We have the honor of hosting AJ Krafton as she begins a tour of her new release The Heartbeat Thief, a fantastic book that begins in the late 1800’s. Here’s a little insight from AJ about tea time.

Time for Tea: Victorian Tradition and its Place in THE HEARTBEAT THIEF

Victorian tea time wasn’t always a thing.

Tea has been around for thousands of years. In many cultures, it was customary to share tea with company. Tea was ceremonial, a sacred part of social law.

In England, mealtimes evolved to include two main meals: breakfast and dinner. Dinner became an evening phenomenon, which was held after the work day. In the case of the upper classes, dinner was an event that lasted hours into the night. Afternoon meals tended to light and on-the-go and had no real structure.

What we’ve come to know as “tea time” began with Duchess Anne of Bedford. Anne experienced a “sinking feeling” around three or four o’clock and would ask her maids to sneak her tea and pastries, since supper wouldn’t come until much later in the evening. At first, she had tea alone but eventually the practice was expanded to include her close friends.

Thus, a tradition was born and tea time became a thing.

Less food, more talking

Victorian tea time carried on the tradition of offering tea to guests. Tea was served in wide-mouthed shallow cups (nothing like our 16 ounce paper cups from the coffee shop). That way, tea could be sipped without waiting all afternoon for it to cool (or blowing on it, which could lead to sloppy accidents). Tea time became synonymous with company and socializing and was, in itself, a social event.

And Victorian events were elegant, spectacular things.

It was customary to have tea in the parlor or garden. It provided a chance to show off the hostess’s best china and linens, as well her abilities to command the skills of her kitchen staff.

Tea served not only to quiet the rumblings of a belly, it was food for the social soul. Dishes were customarily light and easy to eat without worry of a catastrophic mess. Eating was a dainty dance in itself.

Tea sandwiches, cakes, scones, biscuits, candies and nuts were usual fare for low tea (named for the low tables around which guests gathered—think “coffee tables” in the living room). I found a website with loads of recipes here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/HighTeaRecipes.htm I refer to it often when I’m looking to create a special little something.

Trays of snacks were laid out so guests could serve themselves. Affluent hostesses could afford an elaborate tea service such as http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/f9/4a/f8/f94af81ddcca5b29c0fc64c386e2d8bd.jpg

(By comparison, my tea service looks like this: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/triniTEA.html Not quite as shiny J but it makes a perfect pot, every time.)

The overall goal of these tea parties was to ensure that guests enjoyed themselves so thoroughly that they completely lose track of time, ensuring the hostess’s graceful place in the hearts and esteem of all invited.

 

Senza and her Tea

In The Heartbeat Thief our heroine, Senza Fyne, took much comfort in the ritual of tea time. Despite her longer-than-usual life, she never lost her affinity for a well-set tea. It connected her to precious memories of family and friends and times long gone by. Here’s a brief excerpt from The Heartbeat Thief, in which Senza prepares tea for company for the first time in a very, very long time.

 

The Heartbeat Thief

The tea kettle hissed, the steam building up to a whistle. She plucked it off the heat before it could reach full shriek. She didn’t like noise. She’d become far too accustomed to quiet and stillness. It had been ages since she made tea, a proper tea with a full service and decorative sugars. She’d missed the routine.

Grandmother had always taken three lumps of sugar in hers. She’d preferred a Darjeeling, earthy and fragrant, over the milder Assams and startling Keemuns that Father would bring home. Darjeeling, she’d insisted, was an expression of liquid divinity. If you could taste the earth, you could touch the stars. Be one with everything.

Senza blinked, stirring herself from the hazy memory. Grandmother had always told her to live in the moment. Senza seemed only to live in the past.

Wrong moments in which to live.

She rubbed her temple with the bend of her wrist and spooned tea leaves into the pot. Funny that he’d procure a tea service for her in this rustic shanty, a proper set with a silver empress tea strainer and matching sugar and creamer pots. Odd that he’d provide a service for two people, especially since she’d always been completely alone.

Senza arranged the service on a broad silver tray and arranged a spread of biscuits onto a saucer, next to a plate of cucumber and spread cheese sandwiches. A small bowl of candied fruits completed the tea. All had been conveniently located in the small pantry, as if she’d shopped the list on her own.

Stepping back, she surveyed her work. Grandmother would approve. A good host always saw to the tea herself, taking every pain to ensure her guests lost track of the time of day.

Hefting the tray, she carried it into the front room, still startled by its shocking transformation. A small but cozy fire blazed in the simple brick fireplace, near to which an unfamiliar tea table stood. Hand-embroidered flowers trimmed the edge of the linen, matching the elegant bunch of flowers that topped a grey ceramic vase.

 

Senza enjoyed a small tea in that scene, but I love this post here http://www.thethriftygroove.com/2010/05/victorian-tea-party.html because it shows a full elaborate spread that Senza would really have enjoyed. Now, THAT’S what I call a happy tea time.

Perhaps the next time you’re experiencing a “sinking feeling” you’ll treat yourself to a cup of Darjeeling and a cinnamon scone and have a happy moment to yourself (or, better yet, with a friend). There’s no reason to let go of the past when it’s full of sweet traditions like tea time. No wonder Senza Fyne never surrendered her fondness for the practice, even as the years took everything else away from her, bit by precious bit.

For more images of tea time and the book THE HEARTBEAT THIEF by AJ Krafton, visit https://www.pinterest.com/demimondeash/the-heartbeat-thief-by-aj-krafton/

 

Heartbeat Thief

 

 

The Heartbeat Thief by A.J. Krafton
Publication date: June 12th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth—she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.

In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death—and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.

So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible—he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it…

When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death—but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.

It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…

How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?

Purchase:
(the first two days of release will be selling at 99cents)
 _________

Writing about a beautiful lady deserves beautiful words, and that’s exactly what AJ Krafton has accomplished with The Heartbeat Thief. Senza Fyne will rob you of more than your heartbeat; she’ll steal your heart.

Ronesa Aveela Review:

I received an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

True to its word, “The Heartbeat Thief” is part Jane Austen, part Edgar Allen Poe. The author revives the best of the style of writing found in the classics: the introspect of characters, lovely allusions comparing characters to nature and life, beautiful alliteration and prose. Mixed with this is a deep foreboding of death, a macabre sensation that follows Senza throughout the story. AJ Krafton not only tells you a story, she makes you experience it with your senses. You can feel the fog moistening your skin as Senza wanders around London. You can smell the city’s decay. You can hear the clatter of horses against the cobblestones. And your own heart will anguish along with Senza as she despairs about life–and death–in an era when a woman’s beauty guaranteed her a well-matched marriage, even more than her wealth.

This story put me in a dilemma. I wanted to read it slowly to savor the sensation of the words on my mind–each and every of the author’s carefully selected prose, filled with so much imagery and symbolism. But I also wanted to hurry and finish it to discover every new adventure Senza experienced. Would the “heartbeat thief” be discovered?

If you want a toss-away book that just tells you a story, go to a grocery store checkout line. If you want a story that makes you think, one in which you can appreciate the words as much as the story, one that leaves you pondering life–and death–this is the book for you. You won’t be disappointed.

tqJKOwsn

AUTHOR BIO:
AJ Krafton is the author of New Adult speculative fiction. Her debut The Heartbeat Thief  is due out on Kindle in June 2015. Forthcoming titles include Taking’ It Back  & Face of the Enemy. She’s a proud member of the Infinite Ink Authors. AJ also writes adult spec fic as Ash Krafton. Visit Ash at  http://ashkrafton.com

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Reveal the cover of our forthcoming non-fiction book “Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Rituals and Customs”

We are happy to reveal the cover of our forthcoming non-fiction book “Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Rituals and Customs”.

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. “Light Love Rituals” will take you on a journey to discover these unique festivals.

  • A woman in white long rob holding an icon dancing in trance on burning amber coals under the mystical music of shepherd pipe Illuminated of the light of the full moon.
  • Colorful circle of people dancing and going under a wreath made of healing herbs.
  • Girls with wild spring flowers in their hair going from house to house caroling and singing for health and prosperity and holding their baskets full with fresh Easter eggs.
  • Man in wild animal mask and “cow bells” around their wrist jumping and yelling to scare the evil spirit way.love_rituals_add

Transmitted from generation to generation culture and traditions are part of our cultural heritage. They promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity and to empower us to connect to the future.

With “Love, Light and Rituals” we want to introduce you to these ancient customs, rituals, and traditions that have survived through the centuries.

“Light Love Rituals,” not only describes the rituals, but also makes them interesting and understandable to people of all ages. The book is divided into four seasons, beginning with winter. It includes activities where you can learn how to make martenitsi, survachka, and Easter eggs dyed with natural colors. A short quiz after each season lets you test your knowledge of what you’ve read. To help you engage in the traditions in the book, you’ll meet Maria and her family. They’ll open the doors of their home so you can participate in these celebrations along with them. For an added taste of Bulgaria, try some of the traditional recipes at the end.

On Amazon JUNE 1st.

It is all about Ancient Thracian culture this month in Paris

Ancient Thracian culture reveals splendor at Louvre (France).

Here is one interesting article from Hurriyetdailynews.com:

Exquisitely crafted gold, silver and bronze objects are on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, giving visitors a rare glimpse of the ancient Thracian culture that produced them.
LIFESTYLE-BULGARIA-FRANCE-CULTURE-ARCHAEOLOGYMany stories still remain untold about this refined civilization whose citizens included Orpheus, the mythical son of a Thracian king, and the legendary gladiator Spartacus, who led an uprising against Rome.

“Ancient Thrace is most famous for its unique goldsmithing works,” Bulgarian exhibition commissioner Milena Tonkova told AFP ahead of the opening last week.

One of the exhibition highlights is the Panagyurishte ritual beverage set, the most prized possession of these ancient people who lived from the 2nd millennium B.C. to the 3rd century A.D in the Balkan Peninsula.

To read the entire article visit: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-thracian-culture-reveals-splendor-at-louvre.aspx?pageID=238&nid=81471

Photo Credit: www.hurriyetdailynews.com

The Louvre Displays Ancient Treasures of the Thracian Empire- Who are the Thracians?

“The Saga of the Thracian Kings,” an exhibition now on view at the Louvre in Paris.

Who are the Thracians and where is the Thracian Empire?

We knew little about the Thracians when we started to work on “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” When people mention Thrace, the only heroes who readily come to mind are Hercules, Orpheus, and Spartacus – if even those. But Thrace has a vast history beyond its mythology or the conflict with Rome. We enthusiastically rolled up our sleeves and researched their culture, religion, and customs.thrace1Our efforts were reward with a delightful review: “I love that there is a little bit of historical elements in this book, namely the stuff set in ancient Thrace. A history buff myself, it isn’t often I get the chance to read things about Thrace that don’t involve Spartacus. Major props to the writer for creating this wonderful tale.”

Quite often now when we mention the book, people ask, “Where is Thrace?” or “Who were the Thracians? Is that a country?”

So, let’s start with the easy question: “Where is Thrace?” The Thracians lived in southeastern Europe along the Black Sea, in the region that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

 

 

 

“Who were the Thracians” poses a more difficult question. What we can tell you is that they have been around for a long time. Since the people themselves did not have a written language, everything that is known about them comes from other sources. The first historical reference to them was in Homer’s “Iliad,” where it was mentioned that they were allies to the Trojans. But evidence of them as a distinct people exists as far back as 1500 BC.

They were a warlike tribal nation, living in mountains and valleys. But they were also great artisans, finely crafting delicate golden objects and painting beautiful murals.

 1024px-Sofia_-_Panagyurishte_Thracian_Gold_Treasure

A polytheistic people, they worshiped the Sun and Moon, both. Bendis, called the Great Goddess, was one of their primary dieties. Better known, however, is Dionysus, the god of wine, whom the Greeks incorporated into their religion. It is through the story of Orpheus (you remember him; he went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice) that the tale of this drunken god is probably best known. The story did not end well for Orpheus. The Maenads, followers of Dionysus, tore his apart. Yup, gruesome.

 Even today, Bulgaria is known for its wine. Many myths and legends mention Thracian wine. Homer says the most popular wine, one with the best aroma and body, came from the Thracian city of Maroneia. Odysseus also used Thracian wine to put the Cyclops Polyphemus to sleep before he struck the beast in the eye with his spear.

When Christianity crept into the region, the Dionysian cult faded away. But even today the feast of Saint Trifon is celebrated, and the festivities trace back to the cult of Dionysus (for example, pouring wine and electing a king). But, that could be the topic of another entire blog.

April 2015 to July 2015: 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

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-thracian-culture-reveals-splendor-at-louvre.aspx?pageID=238&nid=81471

“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

 

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 – April Adams

Please welcome the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for March 2015, April Adams. April is the Author of “Shattered”.

Emotion, the Seventh Sense

Good profile picTaste, touch, sight, sound, smell, intuition, and emotion. Every single scene should have a good mixture of these things. Smell is often overlooked in writing, but emotion is sometimes nonexistent! On the other hand, too much emotion ruins a scene.

 

In my first draft of Shattered, there was a scene where Glenn was furious. I had originally written this scene as follows:

 

“No!” Glenn shouted, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward a little bit, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. “No I tell you!” His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” he stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care. Not for every life in this realm.” Glenn growled.

“Wait, what?” I asked, realizing what he had said. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s furious hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do.” He answered.

“No!” Glenn roared again, turning from him to me, his look changing from venom to kindness. “I will not let you go with him.” He whispered forcefully, taking both my hands in his and falling to his knees in front of me. His blue eyes held no hint of tears, only determination. I searched his face and found nothing but what he wanted me to see. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care.

“Glenn Elambil.” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips. “For disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising into my throat.

Glenn squeezed my hands and winked at me. “Yes.” He said, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him.” He explained to me, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, brother,” he turned and directed this last to Gable, “that I’ll be coming with you.”

 

But that’s a little too much emotion. So, I tweaked it to this:

adams

“No,” Glenn said in a voice like steel, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward slightly, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose. I was shocked by this sudden escalation and pressed myself into the back of my chair.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” He stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care,” Glenn said, matter-of-fact.

“Wait, what?” I asked. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the Wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do,” he answered.

“No,” Glenn said again, turning from him to me, his look changing from cold steel to kindness. His eyes were honest. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care. I felt a cold chill tingle down my spine. Gable didn’t strike me as a good man, but I hadn’t thought him dangerous.

“Glenn Elambil,” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips, “for disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising in my throat, standing in objection.

Glenn winked at me. “Yes.” He stood with rounded shoulders, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him,” he explained, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, that you’ll have to take me with you.”

 

You can see the difference for yourself. Don’t be afraid to write emotion, hust don’t make it too “drama club” like I did in that first draft. Yeesh. First drafts are the worst!

 

 

Find me online!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G

Twitter: @apriladamsnovel
Facebook:   www.fb.com/apriladamsnovel
Website: www.writerapriladams.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/apriladamsnovel

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

 

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

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)