Giveaway! A Signed Print Copy of The Lady in Yellow!

Win a Free Signed Copy of the Print Edition of The Lady in Yellow!

Just put your email adress in the box below. Winner will be announced on March 16th!

 

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Getting my first book inot print took a long time, mainly because of formatting issues and the painstaking task of catching and eradicating all those pesky typoes. After two more rounds of edits, and my own comb-through, the copy of this much beleaguered, yet steadily selling, book should be 100% clean!

Glad that’s over.

The Lady is a real doorstopper at around 600 pages. I had no idea it was so long! The cover, front and back looks great thanks to Joy Silesen at Indie Author Services.

For readers of The Lady in Yellow, the spin-off, backstory about Sovay is turning into a larger project than i anticipated. I ran into a bit of snag with the first draft as well, but it is in the pipleine. I will keep you all posted and, of course, will have it FREE for fans of The Lady in Yellow.

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A note on the Wicked color Yellow:

“The color of The Yellow Book was an appropriate reflection of the ‘Yellow Nineties,” a decade in which Victorianism was giving way among the fashionable to Regency attitudes and French influences; For yellow was not only the decor of the notorious and dandified pre-Victorian Regency, but also of the allegedly wicked and decadent French novel” (Weintraub, 99).

The Lady in Yellow is a werewolf story inspired by the mural from Chateua Villaneuve in France  that depicts a lady with long golden hair and dressed in a Medeival gown, clutched in the jaws of an enormous wolf. The look on her face is not one of fear, but of coy sediuction. Legend has it that this lady of the chateau had been a flagrant libertine. In French lore, as we find in the fairy tales like Red Riding Hood, and even in the Lais of Marie de France, the wolf symbolizes a perpetually prowling, sexually seductive male. That this lady in the mural seems to enjoy the wolf’s poessession of her, suggests that this mural is about sexual excess. The murals on the walls around this image show devils and demons and what looks like a magician at his smoky altar. The entire series gives of the stench of sulfur, the yellow fumes of devil worship.

All of these themes have crept into The Lady in Yellow, giving this Gothic Romance, and there is a romance at the center, its creepy occult-laden underground stream.

The color yellow is not significant just because the murals were painted mostly in yellow pigments, but because, in certain contaxts, yellow has some untoward associations.

We have the yellow of sulfur, a mineral connected to the Devil, to fire and brimstone, and the sufulous fumes of Hell.

Yellow Journalism: News stories of a titiilating and scandalous nature.

Yellow is the color of gold, symbolizing wealth and corruption

In Victorian times: London’s infernal yellow fog….

The 1890s were tagged The Yellow Nineties by a London bookseller who filled his front window with French novels (scandalous!) that all had yellow covers. This isnpired the artist, Aubrey Beardsley and Ocasr Wilde to produce a magaizine called The Yellow Book.

From: http://www.1890s.ca/

“Holbrook Jackson, describing the impact of The Yellow Book, explained: “It was newness in excelsis: novelty naked and unashamed. People were puzzled and shocked and delighted, and yellow became the colour of the hour, the symbol of the time-spirit. It was associated with all that was bizarre and queer in art and life, with all that was outrageously modern.”

So, you see, its not all sunshine an tea roses, the color yellow. it’s actually not very nice. Diabolical. Wicked. Like the lady in my book, The Lady in Yellow.

 

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Here we have the suggestion of Chinese influence which meant, in Vistorian England, the influence of opium. Many poets such as Baeudelaire and Coleridge were reputed to have written their works under its mind-altering spell.

If you can think of any more associations with the color yellow, feel free to comment!

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The Shadows Still FREE January 10-13!

The Shadows WEBSITE USE

 

The first Poppy Farrel Mystery is FREE January 10-13 NOW!

Go here to get a copy!  http://amzn.to/1sSIpLJ

There’s a nice review of The Shadows on Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1090642439

 

And don’t forget to check out my interview with Miss Stacy at Gothic Romance Reviews: Interview !

If this book sells well and gets lots of reviews, in other words: if you want it, I will focus on the second Poppy Farrell Mystery, Taller Than Our Souls, for 2015.

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2015—Don’t Make My Head Hurt!

 

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I say this because in my quest to write two short stories, one for the Dominion of Dreams collection and one for fans of The Lady in Yellow, I began stories that are so multi-layered, and the characters are so compelling, that they have to be developed into novels.

I have 5 of these. Unlike some Indie Authors, I have a B-type personality and can only write a new book every 3-4 months if all goes well. I wish had some that Alpha juice, but I realize every day that I don’t.

The battle for power between Dragon Queens in ancient Hungary, a Scottish noblewoman lost at sea who comes under the spell of a Selkie, a woman  who wakes in the bedchamber of the most powerful vampire who ever lived and finds herself unable to escape, an ancient bestial family curse is re-ignited with dire consequences , four British teenagers confront the mysteries of the House of Silence and the School of Night.

Whew!

These themes are woven of strands of light and shadow, secret and forgotten histories that carry you into realms you might wish you had never entered…..but you do because you cannot resist the weaver’s spell…. and you’re not scared, are you?

Dark Reliquary may take all year.

Song of the Sea and Starlight could go faster now, but it needs a drop-dead cover to entice readers to such an unusual story.

The Vampire’s Bride may take a couple of months.

Sovay–-I wanted to have this out by now, but it is going too deep. Still, if it would wrap up by the end of February, I will get free copies to fans of The Lady in Yellow.

The second Poppy Farrell mystery, Taller Than Our Souls will go last and will hopefully write itself like The Shadows did.

Shall I chain myself to my word processor? I might have to.

Anyway:

The Shadows will be FREE from January 9-13th!!!

The Shadows WEBSITE USE

 

http://amzn.to/1sSIpLJ

“Don’t go! Don’t go to Blight’s Academy!”

From the moment she enters the hallowed halls of her new boarding school, Blight’s Academy, teenage sleuth, Poppy Farrell, finds danger. From a strange encounter on a train platform, to evidence of a murdered student in the woods that surround the ancient, Gothic buildings, life at Blight’s Academy grows more menacing by the day.

Poppy and her friends, Clair and Georgie, must outwit their Shadows, older girls assigned to mentor them, but who coldly follow them wherever they go. There is a dark secret at the heart of Blight’s Academy: disappearances, deaths, and conspiracies pervade the wooded grounds, flicker in the stained glass windows, tinkle like a music box lullaby through the turreted halls…

Now I have to move a few 2014 projects to the 2015 folder. Jeeze!

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Old Christmas was Darker Than you Think

Krampusz, Saturn, Father Christmas, Saint Lucy or the Christ Child:

An Eldritch Evolution of Christmas

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Above: Santa Claus as a mask over the face of Krampusz!

Not to put a damper on your Christmas festivities, but this little diversion might be interesting to those who wonder about the  ancient rites associated, not with  a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but with the primal need of our ancestors to assist the sun’s rebirth from the darkness of winter and the coming of the light. As a writer of Gothic fiction, I find the lure of the darkness strong, along with the desire to throw back the curtain that hides a primordial mystery. In researching the history of Old Christmas, I found some unexpected things.

In my Dark Fantasy novel, Roses of the Moon, Christmas is celebrated in the old way of Central Europe, in this case 16-17th century Royal Hungary. Though my heroine, Lady Mara, is raised Catholic, her mother, Countess Orzsebet, still carries on the ancient pagan rite of Winter Solstice as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Though Roses of the Moon is a book of high fantasy, I still had to do a lot of research to capture the atmosphere of Hungary in a time parallel to Elizabethan England, and to learn about Hungarian folklore, seasonal celebrations, and fairy tales in order to back up the magic in the story.

I discovered Krampusz. For those of us brought up on Nativity scenes and eight tiny reindeer, this is a scary figure indeed. Not only does he have all the attributes of the Devil with his horns and his long tongue, but he steals children. In Roses of the Moon, Countess Orzsebet, a Bathoryesque evil queen who bathes in the blood of young girls, he was an apt sidekick and a wonderful disguise for the true driver of the tale, the Demon Prince, Lucifer.

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The attributes of Saturn are all over this figure. Astrologically, Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn, the goat, and is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Krampusz is certainly goat-like with his horns and hoofs, he is black like the darkest night of Winter Solstice, as harsh as the cold, cutting wind and pretty hungry. Image after image of Krampusz shows him carrying off terrified children. The color of Saturn is black, and his appetite for children is legendary.

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The image above combines Capricorn, the goat, with Aquarius, the Water Bearer, or perhaps, Bearer of the Punch Bowl. This Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, has a lean and hungry look. What will he fatten up on, if he is Saturn?

This is pretty creepy stuff, and its truth has long been buried. Krampusz has come out into the light for all of us to see and wonder at, especially in countries like America where these archetypal figures had been left behind and replaced by the safe but relatively empty glitz of mass merchandising.

There are lots of pictures of Krampusz online. They expose a dark side to Old Christmas that most civilized people would like to believe has been left in the Dark Ages.

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Blatant child stealing in the image above. Does mere naughtiness deserve such cruelty? Or is something more going on?

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Father Christmas and Krampusz in Salzburg, Germany. Could these be Santa’s elves? And why does Father Christmas look like a Bishop or a Pope, and why is he leading them out of Hell?

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The Father Christmas, or Santa Clause, we all know and love. But what really is in that bag of his? And what is in his belly? The church is like a toy beside this powerful figure who comes out of the darkness bearing the promise of new, and everlasting life. The power of nature seems to dwarf the house of God.

Though their purposes may seem the same, I don’t think of Father Christmas as a Christ figure.  But the figure of Saint Lucy, or Santa Lucia, bearer of the light in the darkness, has also been called the Christ Child.

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Above: The Christ Child by Hans Trapp

This image is worth an entire blog post. It suggests a meaning for Christmas in Old Europe that has nothing in common with the holiday we celebrate today—-unless your name is  Jon Benet Ramsey!

Clearly this Christ Child is female. She is Saint Lucy, Santa Lucia, whose festival is most famously celebrated in Sweden. She comes from the north, her head crowned with flames , bearing gifts for the good little children who seem uncertain whether to accept these baubles, while a brother and sister cower in the corner. The mother clearly wants to protect her naughty children from the creature who has just leapt in through the window: Krampusz, looking goatier and more sinister than ever. His body  is charged with sexuality, his willow switch is raised; he leers at the children. And what that is on his head, only the artist must know for sure. His entire aspect is predatory.

One must wonder what kind of Christmas celebration this is.

Lucy means Light and is often shorthand for Lucifer, the Angel of Light synonymous with the Devil. Krampusz is clearly the Devil. The word Christ means Anointed One, and can be applied to other beings besides Jesus. Folklore has it that Lucifer sits on the left hand of God, brother to Jesus Christ, and that he, too, claims to be a Christ.

Was Old Christmas a wicked old holiday? Or does the brightness of the light and the happiness of the Divine Birth simply cast a deeper shadow all around? Winter for our ancestors must have been a fearsome time when warmth and illumination came only by fire, wolves prowled the lanes looking for food, iron cold stole the breath from small children, and food stores ran low.

May the power of the Holy Birth bring peace and salvation to the world. May the devils of our fears cease to rule us.  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

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Music for Carmilla by Charles Coleman

 

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Composer Charles Coleman contacted me via my Gothic Faery Tales blog asking about some of the images I used to illustrate Carmilla,a Vampire novella by Sheridan La Fanu. He gave me permission to share it which makes me happy because it is a gorgeously mysterious piece that with its cello and shrieking violins, evokes the dark emotions of the Undead.

It’s only 9:40 minutes long, a live performance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and agree it is a wonderful addition to the Gothic Library!

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