Friday, November 9, 2012

Slaying Dragons: a blog post by Jason Halstead

I was a kid once, farther back than I want to admit. It was back in the days where television was analog and distorted by poor antenna reception. The invention of the VHS tape seemed like a miracle on par with curing leprosy. Unto this fragile and sheltered childhood entered the movie, Conan the Barbarian. In those 129 minutes, my life was changed.

I began to seek out fantasy wherever I could. I started, of course, with the Conan books by Robert E. Howard (and later L. Sprague de Camp and others). I went from there wherever I could, to J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks and beyond. No matter the story, I was hungry for more. But beyond wanting a rich fantasy life, I wanted to be like the heroes in the stories. As a kid, I'd play and pretend to slay dragons and rescue maidens. Eventually I became too old to do that (especially if I ever wanted to have a girlfriend), but I never forgot.

Wanting to be a hero is a part of almost every boy's upbringing. I won't dare to guess how many girls these days want to be heroines rather than princesses (my own daughter wants to be a mix of the two). I grew up learning everything I could to make me able to be that guy that can take care of himself and help others when the situation called for it - everything from first aid to joining the military to becoming a competitive powerlifter. I want to be the guy who a mugger will look at and decide not to challenge. I want to be the guy who can rip the door off the crashed car that's on fire to get the people out. I want to be able to slay the dragon threatening the maiden.

With that in mind, my newest book is a high fantasy called Child of Fate. It's the first book in the Blades of Leander series. The characters are as real as fictional characters can be, with quirks and weaknesses aplenty. They've got their talents and strengths just like a regular person, but what's most important about them is that they're identifiable.

These are the kinds of characters that we like because we understand them. We can remember feeling the same way at times. By living vicariously through the characters in Child of Fate we can answer the "what if" questions.

And isn't it safer to read a book than it is to buy a sword and drive to the nearest national border and start attacking the border guards?

I don't want you getting tazed or enduring a body cavity search, so please consider Child of Fate a safer and more entertaining alternative.

Early winters and distant cities make the northern reaches fit only for adventurous homesteaders. Alto is on the verge of becoming such a man when his father is ambushed by monstrous raiders from the mountains.

Determined to find help for his father Alto leaves his home behind and sets out with a group of adventurers tasked with learning the true nature of the raids. Help for his family grows more and more distant as the boy is swept up into a budding war with a neighboring nation and the threats of evil forces from the mountains.

A fiery-tempered princess from the eastern kingdom falls into Alto's hands by twist of fate. The fate of two nations rests in their hands, provided they can keep them off of each other's throats.



Pick up your copy of Child of Fate at any of these sites: 

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Thanks for joining us today!
Until next time,
Ciao
JET

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Symbolism of the Celtic knot

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Michelle Snyder on my blog while I'm over at her blog launching the Saving Face blog tour.  I asked Michelle to put together a post relating to the symbolism behind Celtic knots, which play a role in my new novel.  So without further adieu - here's Michelle...

Michelle Snyder, study from the Book of Kells

The origin of the intricate Celtic knot begins thousands of years ago when our ancestors watched the skies, measured the movement of the sun, moon, and stars, and recorded their findings with dots and lines. Around 8000 BC they saw and named seven planets (then including the sun and moon), and named the days of the weeks after them. They ordered the names of the days by calculating the speed of the planets through their orbits. Megaliths were built to increase the accuracy of their observations. The tools they used to lay out these great stone observatories were strings and rods.

Women were spinning and using thread tens of thousands of years ago. Cords and threads were made by hand, and had many uses other than making their clothing. Cords were used for measuring, and were divided into specific lengths by knots (Duncan-Enzmann). The sections of strings were used to calculate how to divide a circle, to measure time from the passing of stars, and thus to predict the seasons.

Since then knots have acquired many symbolic meanings, and are also used as an information system. For centuries knots have symbolized engagement because knots, like engagements, are binding. In the Celtic, Hindu, and Chinese cultures, knots are designed into wedding garments, representing continuity, longevity, and eternity. Sending messages through love knots is popular in many cultures.

Knots are used in heraldic design, the most famous of which is the Bowen knot – or more accurately an “unknot,” a symbol of the family name. Weaving the string over and under creates intricate patterns, which are used to represent the genealogy of monarchies and nobles. The actual design of the knot is likely inherited from generations of families who were involved in navigation, textiles, or stone masonry.

Another similar function of string, cords, and ribbons is the Maypole. You must have three or more to braid. Maypoles have three, four, five, six, and more ribbons which are woven in and out, over and under by the dancing children. The songs that accompany the dances in ancient times were meant to help children remember how to read the stars, remember the four directions, the eight winds, and to measure time. When the weaving is finished the ribbon is removed from the pole and flattened, and the knot that remains is a physical representation of a mathematical equation necessary to know how to divide a 360 degree circle into single degrees, necessary to find longitude.

Celtic knots are a graphic form of mathematical processes which derive mostly from calendrics. There are countless beautiful decorative letters in the illuminated manuscripts, all designed to preserve the knowledge of how to divide a circle, use the Venus clock, and find longitude. It is easy to see how the woven line which makes these intricate, beautiful patterns could be done with strings, especially if you have ever played cat’s cradle.


Michelle Snyder, M. Phil. is author of several books on the subject of symbology; see her author page at Amazon. Her latest is The Lost Unicorn, a five-star original fairy tale. Visit her blog, Once Upon a Time: World of Symbols.

Duncan-Enzmann has translated thousands of inscriptions from 12,500 BC, found at Ice Age Language.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spotlight on Submission Therapy

Billionaire CEO of Blakely Incorporated, Natasha runs her empire with an eagle eye for every detail. She’s an obsessive, compulsive, micromanaging hard-ass, consumed by the need to control every aspect of her life and her business.

But underneath that seemingly strong fa├žade, Natasha is a swirling mess of anger, anxiety and sexual addiction. Only her therapist, Dr. Benson, knows how close she is to burning out...or exploding. He insists on a radical form of treatment – Submission Therapy – knowing that it’s her only hope.

Skeptical but intrigued, Natasha agrees to attend the first session. What she finds there is an erotically-charged environment that will forgive none of her habitual bad behavior. And a steely-eyed man who seems to read her every desire - even the ones she won’t admit to herself.

Will Natasha learn what it means to submit? Or will she allow her brittle pride to rob her of what she truly needs?

You can find Submission Therapy on AmazonAmazon UK, All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, and Excessica


Submission Therapy EXCERPT:   © November 2012 by Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas


“You really should change that painting on your wall, Derek.”

“Natasha, I’ve asked you many times to call me Dr. Benson.” He leaned over and checked his notes, then jotted something down. Probably a remark about my attitude. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it damn sure won’t be the last.

“No doubt you have, Derek.”

For a shrink, he really seemed stuck on formality, for whatever reason. Some people’s lives are just so petty. I flicked my hand toward the gauche painting in question. “I mean, it’s not calming at all. Thick daubs of acrylic that look like cellulite on the canvas. And what’s with the oranges and blues together? That’s just insane.”

Dr. Benson didn’t appear to get the joke. Simpleton. He pushed his bookish glasses up on his long narrow nose and glared. “Natasha, I’ve been seeing you for a year, now.” His tone was laced with disappointment. “And you’ve made no progress. No change.” He sat back in his vinyl chair. “None at all.”

“Yep, got it, Derek.” I blocked out his face with my watch for a second. The man could talk! I had four meetings scheduled for this afternoon.

He flipped his notebook and it closed with an unusually loud snap. “You’re still control-dependent, and we’ve made no headway with your addiction to sex either.”

I could recite this lecture word for word now. Time was money and these sessions were already costing me too much of both. Apparently with no results to show for them.

I stood and smoothed my skirt. Derek may be a psychiatrist, but he’s still a man. A straight man, judging by the way his eyes scanned my legs. Too bad for him. If he weren’t just a dull, if handsome, shrink, I might have used him for some much-needed stress relief. He could call it addiction all he liked, but for me it was head and shoulders above these damn therapy sessions.

“Well, Derek. Thanks for a wonderful year. I can’t tell you much I’ve enjoyed losing two valuable hours each week, all for nothing.”

He smiled congenially but the strain in his voice was apparent. “If you’d done the exercises as I instructed, you’d have lost six hours.”

I dug my cellphone out of my Louis Vuitton Olive Monogram Antheia Leather Hobo. “Which is why I didn’t.”

“Which is why you’ve failed at therapy and why you are failing at life.”

The deadpan delivery of those words shocked me. Taken aback, I sucked in a breath and, for a moment, considered throwing my phone straight at his stupid smiling face.

“What the fuck did you just say? Have you seen the size of my house? My portfolio of investments? And I’ve failed? If anything it’s you who’s failed, Derek. You’re supposed to cure me.”

Derek folded his arms. “Natasha, we’ve discussed this rudeness of yours.”

“I’m not being rude; I’m being efficient, getting right to the head of the matter, which is your lack of results.”

“There’s a difference between efficiency and rudeness, Natasha, and you are being—”

I dialed Simon’s number. “Bring the car around.” Then snapped my phone closed and turned to leave.

“Natasha?”

“Derek, I don’t want to appear...efficient, but I have places to be.”

He surprised me by rushing to the door and blocking my exit. I was unprepared for such animation. Standing there filling the doorframe with his arms crossed he almost appeared authoritative. In his khaki pants and black Oxford shirt, and with his blue eyes narrowed behind dark framed glasses he looked like he’d just passed Door Security 101. “So why are you still here?”

The unfamiliar steel of his voice seemed to carry a lilt of taunting. I nodded at the hallway behind him. “I’m hardly going to climb over you.”

“You know what I mean. Why haven’t you gone to yet another doctor?”

Because no-one else will take me. Because I’ve carved a sharp-tongued path through them all. No way I’d expose myself like that. Not to this nobody. He already had too much of me sitting in his notebooks. I pulled out my gold cigarette case and flipped it open. “I really don’t know.”

“Natasha, you can’t smoke in here.”

I rolled my eyes. Tiny lives with tiny rules. “Derek, my company owns this building. One of my companies, anyway.”

He produced a business card from his pocket. “This is it, Natasha. Your last chance.”

I glared at the card, but he didn’t waver. Just held it steady as I blew a stream of smoke into his face. Finally I took the thing and checked it over.

Room 112

Master Sweet

“I see your people are no better than mine. I should proof-read for you.”

Sadly, he didn’t rise to my taunting. He remained remarkably collected, delivering his deadpan statement. “Master Sweet is not a room.”

I tapped the ash from my cigarette into a potted plant by the door. “So what is it? Candy?”

“Radical therapy. I’ve tried the softly-softly, ‘tell me how that makes you feel’ method. It’s had no effect. Clearly you need a more hands-on approach.” He tapped the edge of the card in my hand. “And what you’ll find in that room will gel perfectly with your current…addictions.”

________________________________________________________________________________
A little about the authors...

Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkins off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons. She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.

You can find out more about Katie Salidas on her Website  or her Facebook Page.


Willsin Rowe falls in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty. When confronted by any combination of those elements he is a lost cause. He has done many things over and over, done even more things only once, and half-done more things than he cares to admit. He loves to sing and doesn’t let his voice get in the way. He is intelligent but not sensible. He is passionate but fearful. He is not scruffy enough or stylish enough to be cool.

You can find out more about Willsin Rowe on Facebook Page.
Enjoy!
Until Next Time,
Ciao
JET