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Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

An All Hallows Wager

Yes, I know Halloween was a few days ago. I wrote this as part of the Halloween Book Trail and now that it’s over, wanted to share this with all of you. Enjoy.  

An All Hallows Wager

An Aether Chronicles Story

© Suzanne Lazear 2014

 

Noli pulled her cape a little closer to her against the cold Los Angeles night as she and V walked down the street. Many houses were decorated with lanterns carved from gourds and pumpkins, walkways lined with candles, and other such things as costumes adults and children went to and fro attending parties and gatherings. Often more than one.

 

“Why do we have to do this?” Noli whined, waving around the paper list in her hand. She hated society parties. At least this one had games.

 

A flying car, a dragon model by the wings, swooped past. Noli waved out of habit. They honked in reply.

 

“I thought you wanted to play the game? At least we were paired up.” Steven Darrow, or V, as she called him, looked dashing as usual. He was dressed as a prince, complete with a sword. The green and brown velvet, heavy with gold embroidery brought out his green eyes. A thin, golden circlet rested on his messy, golden hair.

 

The funny thing was that V was actually a prince. Well, an exiled prince. An exiled prince of the earth court from the realm of faerie, or the Otherworld, as they called it.

 

“True.” There were worse things than being alone with V in the dark on a scavenger hunt. “Still, it’s cold. And I’m hungry.” In the light of the gas streetlamps she peered at the ten items on the list.

 

“We have five already,” a voice sneered. “How many do you have?”

 

Noli sighed and looked over at the taunting form approaching them. Missy Sassafras’ costume was blinding, covered in spangles and sparkles. She practically leaked feathers and beads. What was she supposed to be? Certainly, it wasn’t flattering. Missy was mousy and a bit round. Also, that shade of orange suited very few completions. Hers wasn’t one of them.

 

“Five? Good for you, Missy.” Noli pasted a fake smile on her face. She didn’t like Missy much. Certainly she wasn’t going to admit that they had none. First team to return won. What, she wasn’t sure.

 

How had Missy gotten so many so quickly? The game just started.

 

A spindly form skulked behind. One in a Gladiator costume, carrying a small sack. Will was Missy’s partner for the game.

 

“V,” he nodded, ignoring Noli.

 

“Will,” V nodded back. Ever the gentleman, V gave Missy a little bow. “Miss Sassafras.”

 

Missy gave a little giggle that sounded a bit like a pig being tortured. She waved her fan in front of her face.

 

“Mr. Darrow, your costume is exquisite.” She moved a little as if trying to show off her own costume, probably hoping for V to compliment her in turn. “But Noli I really have no idea what you’re supposed to be.” Her thin lips curved into a sneer.

 

“A princess, right?” Will said softly. “He’s the prince and you’re the princess. Clever.”

 

“You’re right, Will.” Noli smoothed the fabric. It was an Otherworld dress of dark green velvet, heavy with gold embroidery, smooth and flowing without the bustles and crinolines so popular in Los Angeles. Her crown was made of roses from her garden and green and gold ribbons. V’s little sister Elise had helped her with it.

 

“A princess?” Missy laughed so hard she held her sides. “Noli a princess, sure. The dress isn’t even fluffy. I’m not even sure why she gets invited to parties. It’s like inviting the help.”

 

Noli bit her tongue to keep herself from saying what she really thought. Missy was naught but a social climbing dollymop. However, new money or not, Missy, and her parents, weren’t people to aggravate, especially when Noli’s own social position was so precarious.

 

Still, ire rose within her and her hands fisted, the list crumpling.

 

V frowned. “Miss Sassafras, that doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to say.”

 

It wasn’t a very nice thing to say, but Missy didn’t have very nice manners.

 

“It’s true.” Missy waved it off with her hand, then sniffed. “I don’t know why you even bother associating with her.”

 

She said what?

 

“What do you know, Missy Sassafras?” Noli retorted, cheeks blazing as she took a step forward. “I’ll let you know that we’re going to win that scavenger hunt.”

 

“Care to wager?” Missy sneered.

 

“Sure,” Noli replied, even though she had no money to wager.

 

“Fine. If I win the game, Mr. Darrow escorts me to the next ball.” Missy shot her a triumphant look.

 

“Fine, and if you lose then you give me ten dollars,” Noli retorted. It was the first thing that popped into her head. There was quite a bit she could buy with that sort of money.

 

“Deal.” Missy held out her hand.

 

“Deal.” Noli shook it.

 

“Wait a moment.” V tried to separate them with his body. “Don’t I have a say in this?”

“No.” Missy shook her head. “See you soon. By the way, Mr. Darrow, I like posies.” She waggled her fingers and flounced off, leaving a trail of spangles.

 

“Girls are barking mad, I tell you.” Will sighed and gave V a sympathetic look, then trotted off.

 

“Noli, what did you do?” V’s green eyes went wide. “I don’t want to go any ball, let alone one with her.

 

“I know. Me and my big mouth.” Noli sighed. “What did I just do? But ten dollars! And she just makes me so mad.

 

“I know.” V looked at the list. “I have some of these, and so do you, but the problem is time, especially if they actually have five.”

 

“I don’t think they do.” Noli started to walk toward V’s house.

 

“We can’t risk that.” A resigned look crossed his face. “Come, now, we haven’t much time.” V’s arm linked hers and they ran down the street. They passed more people playing other games or simply out enjoying the evening. They waved as another neighbor drove passed in their steam-powered auto.

 

They stopped in front of an old oak tree in a nearby park. A ring of mushrooms encircled it and flowers grew around it. The twisted trunk thrummed with energy and magic.

 

But it was. Not only was this a “fairy tree”, but little wood faeries actually occupied it. As if summoned, tiny balls of light appeared. A yellow one landed on Noli’s shoulder. The light was actually a glowing tiny person with yellow wings.

 

“Hi there,” Noli greeted. She couldn’t understand them, but they could understand her.

 

“We need your help,” V told them. “We need all these things and we only have a few moments.”

 

Noli watched as V made assignments. He could talk to them just fine.

 

V grabbed her hand. “They’re meeting us at my house, let’s go.”

 

“We’re asking the faeries for help, isn’t that cheating?” Noli laughed as they ran. She didn’t care about cheating, as long as Missy didn’t win. However, V was usually a fussy old bodger about things like this.

 

He grimaced. “It is, and I don’t like it. But I’m not about to be her escort. Only you, Noli.”

 

Those three words held so many meanings, but he was right.

 

At least he wasn’t angry. She’d be angry if she’d been in his shoes. “I’m sorry, V. I shouldn’t have done that. Missy brings out the worst in me.”

 

He squeezed her hand. “It’s all right. I forgive you. She is a bit…much.”

 

They ran up the steps to his house, which was always so neat and orderly, even though there was no mother. Compared to her own house, which no matter how much work she and V did always looked worn and ramshackle compared to the others on their block.

 

“You get the items from the kitchen, I’ll get the book and what’s upstairs,” V told her as they went inside.

 

The house was empty, since his little sister Elise was at a children’s party. Noli wasn’t sure where James was. However, he liked parties even less than Noli. Also, Mr. Darrow didn’t approve of them courting. After all, one day V would take back his family’s court and restore his family’s good name.

 

No matter what, Noli was just the girl next door.

 

They gathered the items and ran out to the backyard. The fairies there, items in tow.

 

Noli put them in the sack as V checked everything off the list. A biscuit. A novel by dickens. A handbill for a moving picture. A clockwork bird. A stocking. She laughed as she put the very fancy stocking in the bag.

 

“Do I even want to know where you got this?” she teased the faeries.

 

A blue fairy said something to V and his cheeks pinked. “No, you don’t,” he replied, eyes on the floor.

 

She could imagine quite well. The rest of the items went into the bag. “All set.”

 

V gave the faeries a little bow. “I appreciate your help. I’ll leave your reward by the tree.”

 

Noli watched as they flew off. “What did we promise them?”

 

“Treats.”

 

“That’s easy enough.” Noli slung the sack over her shoulder. “How are we on time, should we hoverboard back?”

 

“Do you think we could?” He looked torn. “They never said we couldn’t….”

 

That was good enough for her. “Let’s go.”

 

They grabbed his small, brown wooden hoverboard from the back porch. She held on to him tight, as she adjusted her position, trying to account for the weight of the sack. As they rose into the air, her loose hair whipped around her face and she wished she had goggles—and a cap.

 

They took off down the street and she craned her neck, hoping to spot Missy–and make sure they got there first.

 

Technically, hoverboards were one person conveyances. Also, the law forbid girls from hoverboarding. Once, Noli wouldn’t let it stop her, but now she was trying to stay on the right side of the law. So, she’d simply practiced until she could figure out how to properly balance so they could both fly on his hoverboard.

They landed in the backyard of the Vincent’s, who were hosting the party. Missy wasn’t in sight—and Hope Vincent, dressed as a Grecian goddess, still waited in the gazebo for the first team to come back.

“I didn’t know you could do that,” someone remarked.

“That’s not fair,” Missy’s voice screeched from across the yard.

Leaving the hoverboard on the grass, V and Noli took off for Hope, bag in hand. Must. Finish. First.

“Winner!”  Hope called just as V and Noli raced up the gazebo stairs.

Winner? Noli’s heart fell to the floor. She never should have opened her mouth. Do not engage. How many times had her mother told her that.

“Noooo.” Missy came up behind them, face flushed and crestfallen.

Wait. If Missy was behind them, who won?

James Darrow stood there triumphantly, in nothing but a bed sheet. He was the younger brother, though not by much, and looked older. A girl named Violet was at his side, dressed like a fairy, complete with fabric and wire wings. Noli used to take dance classes with her. Once. Back when she had the time and money for such things.

“James and Violent are the winners,” Hope declared. “V and Noli are second and Will and Missy are third, pending you all have the correct items.” She held out her hands for everyone’s sacks.

“Where did you come from?” Noli blurted. “I didn’t even know you were coming.”

James grinned, raking a large hand through his dark blonde girls. “I’m full of surprises.”

“Oh my,” Missy hissed. “Mr. Darrow the younger certainly has filled out.”

Hope looked though each sack. “The winners stand as stated. Here you go.”

She handed out the prizes. A cake shaped like a pumpkin for the winning team and candied apples for everyone else.

“You cheated.” Missy turned to Noli. “I’m not giving you ten dollars.”

“You don’t have to. I didn’t come in first. It was if I won, not if I beat you.” Noli shrugged, though part of her wanted to rub the candy apple in Missy’s hair. How did James win? She could really have used that ten dollars.

“Actually,” Will interjected, “you actually do owe her. The wording was that if you lost then you had to give her ten dollars.”

V nodded. “Actually, Will’s right.”

Missy’s face screwed up as if she’d eaten something bitter. She reached into her décolletage and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. “Here.”

Noli just stared at it. Ten dollars was a lot of money for someone their age to have on hand. Also, that was an odd place to keep money. Should she even touch it?

James yanked the money out of her hand, as if he didn’t care where it came from, which, he probably didn’t. “That was quite gracious of you. Here you are, Noli.”

Ten dollars. All hers.

She shook her head. “You…you can have it back, Missy.”

An eager look crossed her face.

“Missy, a wager is a wager, you should play fair,” Will scolded.

“Fine. You’re something, Noli Braddock.” Missy turned around in a huff and marched down the stairs of the gazebo.

Will just stood there. He shook his head. “Girls.”

James put a hand on Vs shoulder. “On to the next? I hear that Ginny’s party has a fortune teller.”

“I suppose. Though I need to grab a few sweets,” V told them.

“They can have my apple. I prefer caramel apples to candy,” Noli replied.

V nodded. “Very well then.”

“Here, take this.” James handed her the money.

Not sure what to do with it, she tucked it into her stocking. “That was unexpected.”

“That is what,” James agreed.

Violet rushed after them. “You’re not staying, James? Don’t you want half the cake?”

“Keep it.” James didn’t even turn around.

The three of them thanked Hope and walked down the street toward the park with the oak tree.

“How did you do it?” Noli asked. “I didn’t even think you came to the party.”

James grinned. “Cheaters never win, though I have to say, I was very tempted to help Missy just to see V take her to a ball.”

V’s face flushed. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“I can’t believe you would cheat. It’s so unlike you. She cheated too, you know. I got bored so I decided to join you and I saw her and Will cheat, then I heard you to, so I grabbed Violet and…” James shrugged. “We won. Clever, Noli, to word it like that so you got the money regardless. Not that I ever meant to begrudge you of that. I know you can use it.”

They entered the park.

“Then why bother then?” Noli frowned. Though the Darrow boys, not being human did have an odd sense of fun. “Also, I never meant to cheat her out of it.”

“I know.”

“I feel bad though. You’re right, cheaters don’t win. Even if they’re cheating a dollymop like Missy. But how did you win? It makes about as much sense as you trying to beat us, even though you gave the cake to Violet and I still won the money.” Noli placed her apple in front of the tree.

V put his down as well. “That’s what I’d like to know.”

James grinned and pulled a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts out of his bed sheet and placed them at the base of the tree. “That’s for me to know and you to find out.”

Noli looked to him and shook her head. She just didn’t get it. Boys. “Now, can we please go to a party with food? I’m hungry.”

The End

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series, where Noli, V, James and company have lots of adventures. Some of them include flying cars and faeries. Books 1-3 are out now.

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Victorian Halloween Customs

The traditions behind Halloween go back for thousands of years, however, the Victorians, with their love of décor and costumes, helped shape Halloween into what we know and love today.

victorian girlIn the Victorian era, Halloween was full of fun and silliness. There was no trick-or-treating, but there were elaborate parties, especially for young people. Sometimes the parties did involve costumes and theme parties became popular toward the end of the era. Magazines would feature articles on how to throw the best party and instructions on how to make various decorations. Neighbors would try to outdo each other’s parties.

Popular decorations included corn, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, streamers, and characters like ghosts and witches cut from paper. Typical Halloween party food included popcorn balls, doughnuts, apples, nuts, ice cream, and cakes.

Games were played, and given the Victorian penchant for the occult, it’s no surprise that fortune-telling and other such parlor games were popular. So were scavenger hunts and telling ghost stories.  Most of the fortune telling games were about love.

While trick-or-treating didn’t become popular until the 1920’s, many of these traditions are still used today in some way shape and form.

What is your favorite Halloween custom, past or present?

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series which is a YA steampunk series about flying cars, faeries, wishes gone awry, and kissing. Books 1-3 are out now.

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Happy Halloween. Many of our Halloween traditions began with the Celtic New Year festival, Samhain, (Sow wen). This was a day without time as if fell between the old year and the new. On this day the veil between Earth and the Otherworld was at its thinnest.

In my Steampunk Romance, To Love A London Ghost, Samhain comes up a lot. The heroine, Cerridwen, is a ghost of a Celtic warrior woman, who died fighting Julius Caesar. She comes back to earth for Samhain.

Here’s a short excerpt from To Love A London Ghost:

What type of evil had come over the land…her Londinium? Phantasms were to be honored and revered on Samhain. Her descendants should have greeted and welcomed her with a platterof food from the feast. No one laid out food for the ancestors anymore. Where was Ceridwen’s plate of food? Where was Ceridwen’s honey oat cakes? It had been hundreds of years since she came for Samhain. She’d been in eternal rest for many years, a long nap, but she woke up and journeyed all the way from the Otherworld, to visit her descendants and feast with them, yet there was no feast.

Here’s another:

“Algernon doesn’t know as much as I do and he’s not quite dead, not yet.” Ceridwen focused her energy on Charlie’s rifle and it slid across the floor, far out of his reach. “Celtic spirits can take another body any time they wish.” She floated in front of Sexton.

“It’s the reason we rub ash on our faces at Samhain, to look like ghost so the spooks won’t steal our bodies.”

“I’m not sure I quite understand, my dear. You may have to explain again and go a little slower for me, because it sounded like you just said you can take over Algernon’s body.” Sexton carefully stuffed the pistols back in his pockets.

A lot of changes took place in England between the times when the Celtic tribes ruled and the era when Queen Victoria ruled. Samhain became christianized into All Saints Day, November 1, also known as All Hallow Day. People began using the term Halloween as a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”

In the later part of the 19th century, the Victorians began to make Halloween less about spooks and more about parties. As we know, the Victorians loved a good party. These events included a harvest theme, dancing, romantic divinations and parlor games.

Predicaments was a popular game. Players gathered in a circle and they each whispered a predicament to the person on their right. Then, they whispered a solution to the person on their left. That’s where the fun came in. Someone would start the game off, mentioning the predicament given to them. For example, Miss/Mr so-and-so, what would you do if you had blood on your collar after you dreamed of kissing a vampire? The person asked, uses the solution they were given. Which might be something like, I would eat a turnip. The solution and the predicament were unrelated, which made them funny. It would go on like that until everyone in the circle was questioned.

halloween postcards- click to go to site

Apple paring games were quite popular. In one, single women peeled an apple, trying not to break the strip. They’d toss the apple rind over their shoulder. The shape of the letter the peel resembled most was the beginning of the name of the man they’d marry.

The Ouija board was also a popular Victorian board game and perfect for Halloween.  Also, telling ghost stories was always a big hit. No one can discount the fun of sharing ghost stories. It was on a rainy evening when Mary Shelly and others guests of Lord Byron’s were reading German ghost stories to each other. Lord Byron challenged everyone at the party to write their own ghostly tale. Shortly afterwards, Mary Shelly came up with the idea for Frankenstein.

Here from Steampunk Ghostly Tales is Ghost Hunting Steampunk Style. Halloween in Skeleton Bog  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8W-aG8SDQ8

Contest: As a Halloween treat, I’ll send one winner a PDF eBook of my Steampunk ghost story, To Love A London Ghost. It has a traditional romance heat level of three flames. Please comment below and include your email so I can contact you if you win.

~       ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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As a Hollywood makeup artist who worked on the film Titanic and owns of one of the most popular makeup lines used along with Steampunk and Halloween costumes, as well as creator of the Bloody Mary comic books, I picked  Bobbie Weiner as the perfect person to blog about for my Halloween post on Steamed. I met Bobbie Weiner recently at Sparkle and Hustle in HoustonTexas.

Bobbie Weiner & Maeve Alpin

Bobbie Weiner & Maeve Alpin

Bobbie’ Weiner is the heroine of her own life. Her book, I Can Do This, describes her remarkable journey from a doctor’s wife and the country club life to a to a successful, independent business woman. She clearly has a Steampunk sprit, full of spunk and spit fire.

Bloody Mary’s story begins when her husband rode off on his Harley into the California sunset after telling her he wanted a new life, his  new life included an incredibly young wife already lined up for him. In her mid forties, for her first step in reinventing her life, Bobbie (Bloody Mary) enrolled in the Joe Blasco Makeup School for the television and film industry. Three days after she graduated she worked on a low budget horror film, Pumkinhead II. There the production assistant led her into an old barn where she painted a doll house replica of the set with blood and gore, to prepare it to be blown up. Her work on the doll house impressed the cast so much they nicknamed her Bloody Mary.

After Pumkinhead II, she worked as a makeup artist on a lot of short films and B-list horror movies. Then she got a  call for the TV show Renegae, staring Lorenzo Lamas. On that set she met and became friends with an English makeup intern, Josie. Bobbie’s big break came when Josie recommended her for the film Titanic, they needed her special effect makeup skills for the frozen, floating corpses.

During the Titanic shoot, on her day off, one of Leonardo Dicaprio’s stunt doubles asked her for blue and gold makeup to paint his face for the San Diego Chargers game. The next day he told her they were on TV and everyone wanted to know where they got the makeup. When she asked him what he usually used, he said markers and sharpies. That gave her the idea to start a sports makeup line. She attended a college trade show and left the convention with 46 orders for face paint kits.

About a year before Titanic came out she appeared on the morning show, Sun Up San Diego. The manger of the base super store for Marines and their families at Camp Pendleton heard her say her makeup never washed off, even as the actors lay in the water up to five hours at a time. He wanted her to make camouflage face paint for the marines. At that time the US military used a formula from 1918 full of castor oil. The men hated it so much they wouldn’t use it. At the advice of her father, Bobbie trademarked Sports Fan Face Paint, her name, Bobbie Weiner, and Bobbie Weiner’s Camouflage Face Paint. She was soon flooded with orders from the military. In 1999, she received the first of two gold medals from the U. S. Department of Defense, she was awarded the second one in 2002. These were Automated Best Value System medals, awarded to government contractors whose products meet stringent quality, price and delivery requirements.  Every U. S. solider who went to Afghanistan or Iraq had one of her camouflage makeup kits with them. By the early 2000’s Bobbie no  longer worked as a makeup artist for films, instead she supplied the film industry with her makeup. Anytime you watch a modern military movie in which camouflage is used, you can safely guess the makeup came from Bobbie Weiner.

The owner of Troma Entertainment asked her to speak and give a presentation at Comic-Con in San Diego. There she met the branding manger of Diamond Comics. When she told him she was creating a comic book, he asked her to send it to him when she was done.

When her mother became ill, She went to Florida to care for her. That’s how she met her comic book artist. She dropped in a local printing company to order business cards and asked the clerk if she knew any good animation artist. The lady recommended the artist who worked there, Tommy. Bobbie set up an interview and he presented eight black and white pages that were exactly what she was looking for. She sent the first prototype of Tales of Bloody Mary to Diamond Industries and they loved it. She printed 100 copies for a Horror Convention and sold every one. She also sold out at Comic Con 2003. In 2007 she licensed the name Bloody Mary and her 5th comic book theme to Six Flgs over Texas in Arlington, Texas and “Bloody Mary’s Circus of Fear” haunted attraction was born. She gives all proceeds from it to the Boy Scouts. She also licensed the name Bloody Mary to Universal Studios Orlando for their Halloween Horror Nights haunted house.

At a huge Halloween trade show in Chicago, Bobbie did a Titanic-style dead-person demo on stage. There, a writer from a horror magazine interviewed her and asked what was the best Halloween makeup. She told him hers was the best, Bloody Mary’s. She began making death makeup and blood. Her blood is the best , it doesn’t contain any sugars, so it’s not sticky and washes off with just soap and water.

Bobbie gave the key note address on opening day for the 7-Eleven International Convention. She brought people up on stage and transformed them into frozen, dead zombies. She began selling her makeup kits in all the 7-Elleven stores.

In 2002 a funeral director approached her about providing funeral makeup and she reformatted her makeup line, The Other Makeup, to make women look younger, into an additional line, Bloody Mary’s The Final Touch for funeral homes. She also sells jaundice powder and embalming filler for filling in wounds, surgery scars and bullet holes. People also started buying those products to look like real corpses in haunted houses.

Her line of products even includes Bloody Mary’s Bloody Mary Mix and Bloody Mary Hot Sauce. Every year she develops new products from spray blood to tattoo cover kits to living statue makeup kits as seen in the video above.

Her makeup is thought of as essential in creating certain Steampunk personas. Her metallic makeup foundation perfects the popular metallic Steampunk robot look. Her bullet hole, gash, and bite prosthetics are often used, as well as her fairy ears and fairy makeup kit. With the choices she offers, you are sure to find a product of hers to enhance your Steampunk look. or your Halloween costume for tonight.

But the  most important thing to remember about Bobbie Weiner is her advice, “Never let your age be an obstacle. I don’t care how old you are.”

Happy Halloween,

Maeve Alpin

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Happy Halloween! Today is the very last day of the Halloween Author Invasion. I hope everyone had a good time and thank you for helping to make the event a success. A few contests are still open.

To end our festivities we welcome Urban Fantasy Author Jeanne Stein, author of the Anna Strong bounty hunter vampire series. She’ll be giving away two books to a lucky poster, a copy of her latest book Chosen and a copy of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker.

Jeanne Stein is the bestselling author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Anna Strong Chronicles. She lives in Denver where she is active in the writing community, belonging to Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. In 2008 she was named RMFW’s Writer of the Year and last year, her character, Anna Strong, received a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Urban Fantasy Protagonist. The sixth in the Anna Strong series, Chosen, will be released in August 2010. She has numerous short story credits, as well. The most recent, The Ghost of Leadville, is included in the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, Vol. II. (Running Press Books) and Elizabeth and Anna’s Big Adventure included in A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Monsters (DAW Books). She is also one of the editor’s of RMFW’s award-winning anthology, Broken Links, Mended Lives.

Happy Halloween
by Jeanne Stein

Thanks to the Lolitas of Steamed for inviting me though I find it odd to be posting on Halloween on a steam punk blog!! For two reasons, actually. I don’t write steampunk though I love the ideas and love to read it. The second reason is that I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween.

Oh, when I was a kid, we did the costumes and trick or treat thing. And in high school there were the parties. In college, I was much too “serious” a student to join a sorority. I was engaged to a military man so campus life for me consisted of attending classes and the occasional civil rights demonstration (this was the sixties, after all).

Then it was onto life on various military posts. Again, there were parties, but I can’t ever remember wearing a costume to one. When I had my daughter, we did fun things with her. But in the way of the world, she grew up and wanted to do her own Halloween things with her own friends.

So it was back to ignoring the holiday.

Then I started writing vampire stories. In formulating one story line, I discovered that Halloween had an interesting history rich in plot possibilities. What was that history?

1. Present day Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic Day of the Dead.

2. Wearing costumes and giving out food were protection from, and an offering to, the souls of the dead, believed to be out and about on that day. Dressing like fairies, witches and demons and performing antics in exchange for food is the genesis of trick or treating.

3. The customs of bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins go back even further to the holiday of Samhain (pronounced sah-ween), a celebration of the harvest.

4. Samhain was the biggest and most important holiday of the Celtic year. It was the day the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People sacrificed animals, fruits and vegetables and lit bonfires to aid the dead on their journey and keep them away from the living.

5. Christian missionaries were responsible for changing the practices of the Celtic people. In 601 AD, they assigned November 1st as All Saints Day, a substitute for Samhain, to replace the Celtic’s own holiday. But Samhain never died out completely. The evening before was (and is) still celebrated as the day of the traveling dead.

Of course, I’ve simplified and abbreviated the history. There’s a wealth of information on line if you want to learn more. The point is on October 31st, the dead are thought to be able to walk the earth. I used it as the chance for a witch to call up a demon. There are countless other possibilities.

Halloween takes on a much more exotic and dangerous element if you look at it as an ancient people once did. Maybe that’s why I’ve never liked the holiday. The little kiddies in the cute witch or devil costumes look harmless. But what about the adult in that Jason mask? Or that spooky figure dressed up like a demon? This is the one night of the year that you can’t always trust your eyes.

So, how about you? Do you love Halloween? Do you dress up and set those inhibitions free? What costume have you worn that was (or is) your absolute favorite? Or are you like me, sulking in the dark on Halloween, lights out, waiting for the night to be over? Send a comment and you might win a prize (treat, not trick). I’m offering a signed copy of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker (because this is a steampunk blog, after all) and to tempt you to the dark side, a copy of Chosen, my newest vampire novel.

~Jeanne Stein
http://www.jeannestein.com/

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Two more days left of the Steamed! Halloween Author Invasion. Tomorrow we have Urban Fantasy Author Jeanne Stein. Thank you so much for helping to make this a success. Have you checked to see if you’ve won? If you haven’t, you still have a few more days to win!

Today we welcome Debut YA Author Ednah Walters. Her book Awakened is available now. One lucky poster will win a signed copy of Awakened and bookmark, and a set of Halloween nailpolish–some glow in the dark (US only please).

Most teens turn sixteen and get the license to drive, Lil Falcon gets the license to kill demons, but someone forgot to tell her not to fall in love with one.

Orphaned as a child and raised by her grandfather, Lil Falcon is concerned with navigating her new high school and is unaware she’s a descendant of the Nephilim, a race of beings with super powers tasked with protecting humanity from the demons who threaten it. But when she meets Bran, his psi energy unlocks her latent abilities and opens her eyes to what she is, a Guardian.

But Bran has a secret and befriending him sends Lil down a dangerous path that will either destroy her or make her stronger

 

Guardians and demons, their origin and how to get rid of a Lazarus/smoke demon.

By Ednah Walters

Nephilim, children of the Fallen Angels

You may know them as the Fallen Angels, the Watchers or Gregori, depending on your book of choice (Holy Bible—Genesis 6:2; The Book of Enoch and Jubilees—other editions of the Bible), but we know that these heavenly beings fell in love with “the daughters of men” and gave rise to a new breed of beings called the Nephilim.  The Fallen Angels passed on their amazing powers and vast knowledge to their children, from the ability to control minds to shape-shifting, distort perception of things and teleport to foretell the future and time-travel.  Some could even manipulate the elements—fire, water, wind and earth

Beings with godlike powers, or part human and part god, are found in many ancient worlds.  Titans and demigods, Pharaohs and Rakshasa in Hindus and Buddhist mythology.  Some were good and some were evil.

According to the Holy Bible, God decided to destroy the Nephilim strain that had entered the human gene pool by sending the floods.  Noah’s family was spared because they were pure and untainted.  Gen. 6:4 says that: “There were Nephilim in the earth in those days (in the days of Noah); and also after that.  In other words, some remained after the flood.  And so the story of the Nephilim continues with the Guardians.

The Guardians

The Guardians are the good descendants of the Nephilim.  The Neterus subgroup look like you and me, the were-nephils are shape-shifters who can sprout wings and fly or take a form that’s part-human and part-animal, the Nosferatu are the fanged ones and only hunt at night.   But they all carry on the tradition their forefathers, the Watchers/Grigori/Fallen-Angels, were sent on earth to do.  They watch over humans by killing demons that want to destroy humanity.

 

Since the demons they fight have similar powers and abilities like them (and physically look like them), the Cardinal Guardians train in martial arts and weaponry.  They are faster and more organized.  They have a system in place that works, from the teens attending your local high school and learning how to interact and speak like human teens, but secretly train after school and in the summer, to the Civilian Guardians who supply them with funds, information and cover.  The Civilians can be anybody, your doctor, the lawyer down the street, a cop, your teacher or even your local librarian.  Their existence is the best-kept secret in the cosmos.

 

Human Guardians?

The Guardians live among us, they look like us, fall in love, get married and have children.  Some fall in love with humans and sacrifice a lot to marry them.  Children from their union can either have more human traits or more Nephil traits.  You’ll know if one of your parents is a Guardian when you turn 16 and start to hear voices or teleport across town in your pjs and think you were sleep-walking.  If that happens, tell your parents.  If they rush you to the nearest shrink, honey, you were adopted!!!!  Put a help-ad in the local newspaper with a sketch of the Guardian amulet—a six-sided star inside a circle and a green stone at the core of the star.  A Guardian will come and take you to their enclave.

Halloween and Demons

Halloween is fast approaching and it is impossible to differentiate between a demon and a human wearing a costume.  If you’re giving out candies at the door, remember, they can’t come inside unless you invite them.  Watch out for their trickery though.  They will find a way to manipulate you.  If you’re out trick-o-treating, beware of two distinct demon scents.  The sulphur smell associated with the Lazari or smoke demons.  The sickly sweet scent of the nature-benders, you know the ones behind natural disasters.  I’d advise you to carry plenty of salt this year.  Since the death of a certain demoness, the Lazari population has tripled on earth.  The purity of salt crystals will repel them, but a direct spill of salt into the eyes of a Lazarus demon in human form can send her or him straight to Tartarus.  If in smoke form, whip that salt shaker like a feather duster and get the heck out of there.  The Lazari travel in packs and some ignore the rules.

~Ednah
http://www.ednahwalters.com

To learn more about Ednah’s Guardians and Demons check out Awakened.

What would you do if you met a demon?

One lucky poster will win a signed copy of Awakened and bookmark, and a set of Halloween nailpolish–some glow in the dark (US only please).

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We posted more winners — is it you?

It’s Day #6 of the Halloween Author Invasion. We’re still going strong with great authors blogging through Halloween and giving out prizes every day.

October 29 — Paranormal Romance Author Maggie Shayne
October 30 — Young Adult Author Ednah Walters
October 31 — Urban Fantasy Author Jeanne Stein

Today we have Paranormal Romance Author Maggie Shayne–and she has three amazing prizes to give away!

New York Times Bestselling author Maggie Shayne will be releasing her 50th full length novel, KILL ME AGAIN, this summer. Her stories span the genre, from westerns, to romantic suspense, to tales of the spiritual and paranormal, and just about everything in between. She’s a recipient of the RITA Award, the romance fiction industry’s most prestigious prize, and has won countless others. Maggie’s “Twilight” series of vampire novels, officially known as Wings in the Night, began in 1993 with a TWILIGHT PHANTASIES from Silhouette Shadows. She’s still penning novels in this series with two new stories due out next year. In addition, her new romantic suspense trilogy, “The Secrets of Shadow Falls” was just released in July, August and September.

Maggie Shayne’s Halloween

I think Halloween is my favorite holiday, and not just because I’m a card carrying modern-day Witch (although that certainly enters into it.) But it’s also because it comes during my favorite season, Autumn, and while All Hallows arrives long after the glorious foliage has passed its peak in my neck of the woods, I still associate it with that breathtaking beauty.

But it’s also everything else the holiday represents that makes me love it, not the least of which is the chocolate. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Halloween descends from the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced “SOW-en.”) Samhain was the final of the three harvest festivals, and it marked the end of the planting, growing, and reaping seasons. The final harvest didn’t just include fruits and veggies. It included meat, and so it was a time associated with slaughtering the animals raised for that purpose, which is part of where it gets its association with death. In fact, the full moon of October is most often known as the Blood Moon (also the Hunter’s moon.) The more widely known Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, and the Blood Moon is the one that follows.)

The other source of Halloween’s link to death is that it’s one of the two times during the year when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is perceived to be at its thinnest. (The other is May 1, or Bealtainne. In spring, however, the veil is seen to be more the one between the world of humans and the land of the Fay, of nature spirits and the like.) Communication and even travel between the worlds is said to be easiest at these times.

In days of old, families would hold a Dumb-Supper, a feast with places set for the beloved dead who had passed during the previous year. The meal was eaten in silence as the living communed with and listened for messages from those ghostly guests.

I hasten to add, the actual date of Samhain is the day that falls precisely halfway between the Autumnal Equinox, and the Winter Solstice. It’s never on October 31st, but usually the first week in November. This year it’s November 7th, in the USA.

We all know the stories of how trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns originated. Offerings were usually left outside the door for any spirits that might be wandering the world on Samhain night, the idea being that the treats would placate them so they wouldn’t play any tricks on the residents, or try to get inside. If the treats failed, the Jack-o-lantern, carved into a turnip, not a pumpkin, would surely frighten the spirits off. And if nothing else worked, why wearing a mask would surely do the trick. Make the spirits think you’re one of them. Then they surely won’t haunt you!

But how do modern day witches celebrate Samhain?

Well, I’ll tell you a few of the ways I do.
First, if there are any herbs, fruits or vegetables still out in the fields, I spend the weeks prior to Samhain getting them in. Old lore says anything left out on Samhain night is likely to be tainted by gremlins. So I gather my mint and rosemary and sage, apples from the trees on my lawn, and any wild weeds I want to store for winter use, before Samhain.

I will most likely hold a solitary, quiet ritual in my temple room, during which I’ll sit in quiet meditation, speaking to, and listening carefully for messages from my own beloved dead.

I’ll spend a lot of time making lists of the blessings I’ve received during the past year, and spending time in blissful appreciation of each of them. And during my Samhain ritual, I’ll give thanks more formally. Samhain was a time of feasting on the recent harvest, and probably the pre-curser to our modern day Thanksgiving. Although the Autumnal Equinox is also a day for giving thanks among Pagans. So I’ll be spending lots of time giving thanks and taking stock of all I’ve gained during the year that has just passed.

I’ll spend a great deal of time on divination, because the powers that fuel such efforts are at their peak during Autumn, and at Samhain in particular. Tarot readings tend to be my forte, though I have a crystal ball I’ve been wanting to spend more time with. So I’ll be doing many readings during the days leading up to Samhain and on the day itself. I’ll be asking many questions about the future, and the nature of being, and carefully recording the answers I receive.

Shamanic journeying too, ought to be most potent during these thin-veil nights. So I’ll be putting in some time on that, as well, and making notes and filling journals will all the insights I bring back from the Otherworlds with me.

During the Month of October everything has deeper meaning to me. The dreams I have at night, the shapes I see in the clouds, the animals that appear on my walks outside, the odd thoughts that pop into my mind out of nowhere, the ideas I get for stories. The veil is thin. The curtain is parting. The illusion that is our world becomes so transparent that we get brief, tantalizing glimpses of what’s really true. The stuff that’s coming through is not to be ignored.

To fully appreciate the energies of Samhain, you might want to create your own little holiday ritual. Here are the simple ritual steps most working Witches use.

1. Cleanse and Consecrate the ritual area.
This is done by walking in a clockwise circle around the ritual area with some cleansing incense burning, such as sage or rosemary. Wave the smoke with your hands and imagine it purifying the space of any negative vibe, leaving only peaceful, pure positive energy behind.

2. Cast the circle.
Again, move clockwise around your ritual area, holding your hand out to project an invisible beam of energy, forming a circle. Move around the circle for a second time, imaging that ring rising up above and below, forming a bubble around the area, surrounding you. Move around a third time, adding substance to that bubble, your mind focused on it being sacred space, where nothing bad can enter, and where the energy you raise is contained until you’re ready to release it.

3. Honor the four directions, give thanks, and leave offerings.
This is yet another part of the rite that is observed by Shamans of every ilk. Move to the north, imagine its energy. It is snow, ice, cold, hard. It is rock and the planet earth. It is the depth of winter and midnight, and the rest of death itself. Open your arms and honor the North. Thank it for its gifts stability, of rest and repose, of the abundance of the Earth. Leave an offering of gift for the North, blow it a kiss, and move on.
Move to the East. It is springtime, and youth and newborn life, and the air we breathe. It is new growth, sprouts and twigs and breezes and yellows and birds. It is rebirth. Open your arms and honor the East. Thank it for its gifts of intellect, muses, the written word, language, inspiration, and travel. For the freshness of rebirth, and all gifts of air. Leave it an offering, blow it a kiss, and move on.
Move to the South. It is summer and fire and passion and energy, red and orange and vitality and life and sex and richness. Open your arms and honor the South. Thank it for the gifts of passion in your live, for your energy, your strength, your creative fire. Leave it a gift and move on.
Move to the West. It is autumn, and harvest, and the ocean. It is age and wisdom and transformation. It is emotion and love and all things watery. Open your arms and honor the West. Thank it for the harvest, for the abundance in your life, and for your heart and your love. Leave it an offering and move on.
Move to the center. It is the the place of spirit, and it is the Tree of life. Above is the abode of the Gods, and Below, the land of the dead, and the ancestors. It is the place of magick. Open your arms and honor the center. Thank it for your connection to your higher self (above) and your subconscious (below), and your ancestors and your own inner magick. Leave an offering, and then move on.

Sit quietly, and perform any divinations you may feel moved to do, or just meditate and see if any information comes to you. Speak to those who’ve passed if you wish. Listen to what they say.

When you feel ready, open your eyes, ground yourself back in the physical world. Rise and thank the center, say goodbye. Move to the west, and do the same. Then to the South, and then the East, and then finally the North. You’ll note you move counter clockwise this time.

Walk once more, counterclockwise around your circle, hand extended, taking back the energy with which you created your bubble, returning the room to being just a room. And then kneel and press your palms to the floor to let the energy you’ve gathered “ground” there.

Be sure to get something to eat immediately after. And don’t go in swimming for at least an hour. 😉

For more information on Halloween traditions, I strongly recommend HALLOWEEN by Silver Ravenwolf.

And from me this season, look for re-prints of my vamps:

TWILIGHT HUNGER- October

EDGE OF TWILIGHT- November

BLUE TWILIGHT- December

All in preparation for my three NEW vampire titles in 2011.

Tune in at www.maggieshayne.com for the premier of my new vampire video on October 31st!

Happy Halloween!

Maggie
www.maggieshayne.com

How are you going to celebrate Halloween? Three lucky commenters are going to win a tarot card reading via email with Maggie!

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