1-Year-Anniversary – Where The Poppies Grow – By Stephanie Ayers

Title: Where the Poppies Grow

Author: International Bestselling Author Stephanie Ayers

Genre: Paranormal, Thriller, and Suspense

Blurb: Every Spring she stands in the poppy field waiting on her groom. No one knows her name or where she comes from. She never ages and never fails to appear, weeping for her lover. Each night, the men of Stoney Village hear her cries and wander to the field, but only one can be chosen. Will there be any left to answer her calls where the poppies grow?

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09R7ZX8XN

Book is available in Kindle Unlimited


Excerpt:

She said her name was Maize, and I couldn’t stop staring at her. Her dirty blonde hair looked so silky, I wanted to run my fingers through it. Her cheeks flowed with a natural blush my fingers ached to caress. She paid me no mind, though, just continued collecting the poppies, clutching them to her chest and sniffing them before tossing them into the air. The flowers flit around her like red confetti, until they fell to the ground and mingled together in the field.

“I’m Carter. The poppies are early this year.”

I had no idea why I said that. I only meant to introduce myself. It was true, though. The poppies usually didn’t bloom for another month.

Maize just smiled and nodded, tossing more flowers into the air. A few of the blossoms settled in her hair, and it stole my breath away. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, and she wasn’t from around here.

She couldn’t be because I’d never seen her before. And a girl who looked like she did would have been noticed, and not just by me. Everyone would have noticed her.

The fact that I only ever saw her in the poppy field should have been a clue, but I was so captivated by her, it never crossed my mind I never saw her elsewhere.

Admittedly, I stayed pretty busy between my schoolwork and my real job—which I only had so I could pay for college. Neither left me much time for a social life, and it never bothered me until I met Maize. Time stood still when she was around. I never wanted to leave because I never knew for sure when she’d come back.

She showed up with the appearance of the first poppy, and I worried she would go away when the last one disappeared. I don’t know why I thought that. It was crazy thinking, but I was much too wrapped up in her—or maybe it was the idea of her—to really consider the bigger picture.

The time of year, the appearance of the poppies, and the fact that she never went anywhere but the field should have been obvious clues; red flags I happily ignored as long as I could spend time with her. Time stood still whenever Maize was around, and that was okay with me.

It was not okay with my boss or my teachers. My mother didn’t much care for it, either, but none of them mattered when she was there.

We didn’t even need to talk. We just picked flowers side by side and tossed them into the air, their blooms covering us like blood until we were one with the field. And maybe that’s when I should’ve run far, far away, but I didn’t.

That was my first mistake.

“Where are you going?” my mother inquired.

“Gardner’s Field.”

“Please don’t. The poppies are in bloom, so it’s Maeve Hadley season.”

I laughed. My eyes rolled toward the ceiling. “That’s just an old wives’ tale, Ma. The only thing haunting that field is ghosts of memories gone by. No one has disappeared from that field for as long as I’ve been alive.”

Mom’s forehead wrinkled. “That doesn’t mean Maeve hasn’t shown up. Just do me a favor and stay away from the poppies. Please?”

I shook my head. Mom was easily placated, but I hated lying to her. Somehow, she always knew.

“I’m not going to make any promises I can’t keep. I promise to be careful, okay? Besides, the girl I meet up with is named Maize, not Maeve.”

“Maize, Maeve—they sound an awful lot alike. I heard she uses a different name every year.”



Connect with Stephanie

Author Bio: A creative ninja with a dark mind and a quirky nature, Stephanie Ayers writes all the words and spins twisted tales filled with horror, fantasy, suspense, and anything in between. With a trunk full of tricks thanks to a checkered past, she haunts Irish castles and snowy mountaintops in her dreams, while living the unicorn life in Ohio disguised as a human. When she isn’t listening to the voices in her head, she spends her days as a mom, Gigi, cat lover, and Netflix binger, while avoiding housework at all costs.

Since signing with Crazy Ink Publishing, Stephanie has managed to somehow produce over a dozen solo works (with no ending in sight). With ink in her blood, an absence of fear, and a passion for telling stories, she isn’t afraid to dip her pen in the inkwell of many genres, and even has four successful series in her name—the stand-alone horror volumes of The 13 Series, the amateur witch detectives of the Coven Cozy Mysteries, the individual displaced characters in the Portal to Madness series, and her epic five book fantasy series, Destiny Defined.

When she isn’t lost in her overactive imagination or entertaining her mini-unicorns, you can find her all over social media and find a full listing of her works on her Amazon author page. Her favorite wandering place is her readers’ group on Facebook. Join the herd now!

Stay up to date with everything unicorn by subscribing to her monthly newsletter and get a free read as a thank you!

Author Links:linktr.ee/stephanieayers

A Dark Piece Of History – Flipped Over To The Modern World

Let me start by saying that this is a topic I use in my current need to write blog posts that give us a bit of information about how things really were in the ‘good old days’… I wrote about Historical Romance and Hygiene, I wrote an article describing Historical Health and Ladies Fashion, and their part in Historical Romance… now, let’s go to another piece of history, a dark, very dark part, that we nowadays rather ignore…

But let me ask you a question:

How did we get from THIS:

Picture courtesy of Pinterest.com

to this:?

Picture courtesy of Google.com

In these days of storytelling, authors enjoy the wonderful freedom that ‘fiction’ gives them. With the genre of ‘Historical Romance,’ ‘Paranormal Romance,’ ‘Chick Lit,’ ‘Sexy Romance,’ ‘Erotica,’ ‘Fantasy,’ and others, we are given the possibility to turn our characters into whatever we feel like… And it happens that some of these women become witches.

I admit, it wouldn’t be very romantic (or sexy), if the ‘lady’ from the first picture were our protagonist’s love interest, while nobody has problems seeing the young ‘witch’ being the chosen one.

In many cases, our young and sexy girl is often a witch with unmeasurable power. Of course, remove the pointy hat and the broomstick, but I think you get the drift.

But how did these accessories even come up? How did witches ‘become’? What happened to these women, and why is this part of history so dark?

Let’s have a look at that:


Partially to filming, movies, TV, illustrators, and artists (one of them the creators of ‘The Wizard of Oz’), the expression ‘witch’ has become stereotyped with a certain outfit, long ripped, ugly, unwashed flowing dresses, boots… black cats, broomsticks, and a pointy black hat.

After a few hours of intense research, I admit, I’m at the end of my wits. Despite all the information I got, I’m as helpless as I was before I started looking for the origin of that hat. History is full of pointy hats. Medieval noblewomen wore the ‘Hennin’, a long conic hat, often covered with a veil… Phrygian caps were worn by French revolutionaries (dwarves and smurfs), but the truth is, nobody knows truly when the pointy hat became associated with dark magic.

And then, I seemed to be lucky: I found an article describing the discovery of three female mummies in China. (Three female mummies uncovered in the Chinese region of Subeshi [PDF]) They became famous as the “witches of Subeshi”. Each of them had covered her hair with a large funnel-shaped black hat.

Until the early 18th century, witches were shown bare-headed and nude, until in England, illustrations of old crones in pointed hats started showing up.

Gary Jensen, a former professor at Vanderbilt and author of ‘The Path of The Devil, Early Modern Witch Hunts,” the pointed hat became an easy way to recognize dark magic. Witches showed up on postcards from the American colonies. Later, Victorian storybooks picked up on the theme and continued to develop the myth.

After all the interesting information I gathered, I still didn’t know about the origin of the conical hats and why there were supposed to represent evil. There were rumors that witches were trying to gather universal power with the hat, who supposedly served as the ‘catcher’ and vessel of said power. But other than that rumor, I didn’t find anything that would point me in that direction.

I also read about a theory, which Jensen described, how the ‘Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215 demanded all Jewish people to wear this so-called ‘Judenhat’ (Jewish hat) to show their religion. By then, this hat stood for Anti-Semitism. What surprised me was that Jews had been followed, hated, and bullied as early as the medieval by connecting them to the devil.

Another wild guess pointed me toward Quakers and the ‘commoner’s’ prejudice against them. This would partially explain the hatred and fear people had against this sect in colonial America, but it wouldn’t tell anything about the horrible hatred and Witch-Hunts in Europe. Also, Quakers wore hats but nowhere near pointed.

One more theory I read about, in a short, rather insignificant article, was the one that doctors set the rumors of ‘witches’ into the community when women started working as midwives and were much cleaner and more successful than the often dirty and careless medical ‘experts’ back in the medieval times. The midwives’ pupils had a much higher chance of surviving delivery, and the mothers-to-be felt more comfortable in their presence. And we are talking about a time, centuries before Lister’s Theory of Antisepsis, which he published after 1867. This theory is quite interesting but had nothing to do with the pointed hat.

After all that research, we know that witches use cone hats with wide rims, and we still have no clue where this began.


However, there are more ‘accessories’ witches have, one of them the infamous black cat. How did that start? I found a website, ‘Solidgoldpet,’ that told me in a few words, what I wanted to know:

Back in the 14th century, black cats were actually worshiped as gods, but as time went on, their reputation quickly changed. During the Middle Ages, the black cat became affiliated with evil. This stemmed from them being nocturnal animals.

Witchcraft also played a big part of the cat’s evil image. Since being one with nature was an important part of witchcraft,  it was common for them to have a cat as a companion. Cats are also nocturnal and roam the night, which lead to the belief that they were supernatural servants to witches. When the black cat was linked to the devil, it lead to many of them being killed during the Black Death pandemic (although the cats were actually helping to kill the rats that spread the plague). The term witchcraft has a negative connotation, but it actually means “craft of the wise.” When witches claimed to be able to perform magic, they were actually brewing special potions that helped heal the sick. That is when the Christian Church spread propaganda that their magical powers came from The Devil. (Source: Solidgoldpet)


A third distinctive accessory for witches is the ‘broomstick’ on which they fly around. I found an amusing and very interesting article about this on ‘History.com’, which actually blamed a priest for practicing witchcraft and flying around on a broomstick, and he confessed. (Under torture, but still…) If you would like to read the entire article, it can be found here. At this time, I decided only to implement a part of the post here.

Anthropologist Robin Skelton suggests the association between witches and brooms may have roots in a pagan fertility ritual, in which rural farmers would leap and dance astride poles, pitchforks or brooms in the light of the full moon to encourage the growth of their crops. This “broomstick dance,” she writes, became confused with common accounts of witches flying through the night on their way to orgies and other illicit meetings. (Source: History.com)


So, when and where did the witch hunts start? It is unclear, how it started, the theory of ‘doctors’ starting them, accusing midwives of witchcraft, is as ‘good or bad’ as any other wild guess. Again, the ‘History Channel’ helped me. In limited, clear and simple words it explained the suspected origin, the wide spread witch hunts in Europe, and even touches the Salem Witch Trials. (For the entire article, please click here)

Witches were perceived as evil beings by early Christians in Europe, inspiring the iconic Halloween figure.

Images of witches have appeared in various forms throughout history—from evil, wart-nosed women huddling over a cauldron of boiling liquid to hag-faced, cackling beings riding through the sky on brooms wearing pointy hats. In pop culture, the witch has been portrayed as a benevolent, nose-twitching suburban housewife; an awkward teenager learning to control her powers and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil. The real history of witches, however, is dark and, often for the witches, deadly.

The Origin of Witches

Early witches were people who practiced witchcraft, using magic spells and calling upon spirits for help or to bring about change. Most witches were thought to be pagans doing the Devil’s work. Many, however, were simply natural healers or so-called “wise women” whose choice of profession was misunderstood.

It’s unclear exactly when witches came on the historical scene, but one of the earliest records of a witch is in the Bible in the book of 1 Samuel, thought be written between 931 B.C. and 721 B.C. It tells the story of when King Saul sought the Witch of Endor to summon the dead prophet Samuel’s spirit to help him defeat the Philistine army.

The witch roused Samuel, who then prophesied the death of Saul and his sons. The next day, according to the Bible, Saul’s sons died in battle, and Saul committed suicide.

Other Old Testament verses condemn witches, such as the oft-cited Exodus 22:18, which says, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Additional Biblical passages caution against divination, chanting or using witches to contact the dead.

‘Malleus Maleficarum’

Witch hysteria really took hold in Europe during the mid-1400s, when many accused witches confessed, often under torture, to a variety of wicked behaviors. Within a century, witch hunts were common and most of the accused were executed by burning at the stake or hanging. Single women, widows and other women on the margins of society were especially targeted.

Between the years 1500 and 1660, up to 80,000 suspected witches were put to death in Europe. Around 80 percent of them were women thought to be in cahoots with the Devil and filled with lust. Germany had the highest witchcraft execution rate, while Ireland had the lowest.

The publication of “Malleus Maleficarum”—written by two well-respected German Dominicans in 1486—likely spurred witch mania to go viral. The book, usually translated as “The Hammer of Witches,” was essentially a guide on how to identify, hunt and interrogate witches.

“Malleus Maleficarum” labeled witchcraft as heresy, and quickly became the authority for Protestants and Catholics trying to flush out witches living among them. For more than 100 years, the book sold more copies of any other book in Europe except the Bible.

Anna Göldi (Switzerland, 24 October 1734 – 13 June 1782) was probably the last person in Europe to be executed as a witch. She was beheaded in Glarus in 1782. She confessed under torture, and despite many people believing her innocent, she had to die. You can read about her life in ‘The Story of Anna Göldi‘.

In March 2007, 225 years after her execution, the government and the church of Glarus refused to admit that Anna Göldi was a victim of justice. They said that in the minds of the people of Glarus, she was already rehabilitated long ago.

However, the case was taken further, and finally, on September 20, 2007, the Swiss parliament decided that justice was wrong in Anna Göldin’s case. As a representative for Glarus in the Swiss parliament, Fritz Schiesser called for Anna Göldin’s exoneration. (An interesting view on things, because, in my opinion, an exoneration 225 years after her death gives the word ‘delay’ a whole new dimension, doesn’t it?)


Now, what are we doing with all our information about witches? I would say it depends on what kind of authors we are. We can write about sexy, breathtakingly beautiful women practicing witchcraft and having a happily-ever-after moment with their beau… or we write about the numerous poor women who had to die, innocent, after being tortured and accused for no reason, just because someone didn’t like them?

Or… we write a dark, dark fairy tale, where old hags eat children…”Nibble, nibble, gnaw, who is nibbling at my little house?”

A Broken Angel Heart (Anghariel’s Past)

It was late in the afternoon when the teenage angel returned home… He had spent a wonderful romantic afternoon and expected to have dinner and then meet a few friends, pretending to do homework together.

What he did not expect, was his father standing behind the door, his fists stemmed into his hips, his impressive frame of 6’4” stretched out, his handsome face showed overshadowed eyes, lips, pressed to form one thin line of anger, and he radiated power, tension, and rage.

The young angel stood there, lowering his head. He knew, there was no way out of punishment.

His father stared at him: “Have you been skipping classes, son?” Anghariel lifted his head and looked right back into his father’s eyes. He would not lie. He would take responsibility for his decisions and actions. So, he simply replied: “Yes, Father.”

The older angel just nodded, then ordered: “Come with me. We will fly.” Anghariel was surprised but followed directions without another word.

It did not take long, and Anghariel lost his father, somewhere in the Alpes, between the ‘Schilthorn’ and the ‘Allmendhubel’, how they would be known in later times, after the founding of the ‘Confoederatio Helvetica’, later known as Switzerland. After searching for over two hours, Anghariel found his father peacefully resting on the ‘Griesalp’, between cows grazing. He did expect his father to yell at him, but the older angel just got up, grinning widely. “Not too bad, my son.” He greeted him amused.

Anghariel frowned. He had hardly ever seen his Father this chipper, not, when he seemed to be so brooding dark and enraged, only a few hours ago.

Aquilo smiled. “Sit down, Anghariel. We need to talk.” The younger angel nodded and sat on a boulder. Aquilo stood there, shook his breathtaking orange wings with the silver-gray tips and folded them neatly behind his back. Anghariel waited patiently until his father was ready to talk, when he finally did, it was like a shock to the boy.

“When I was your age, maybe a tiny bit older, I was a womanizer, son. I know, you would not think so now, that I’m happy with your mother and our family. But back then, I was craving for the attention of women… or, let’s say, ‘girls’, since for real women I was far too wet behind the ears.” He took a break before taking a deep shaky breath…

“And then I made a horrible, horrible mistake, that nearly cost the lives of several teenage angels, one of them myself, and a few of my closest friends. – I fell for a human girl.”

Anghariel swallowed. “You… you did?” Aquilo nodded. “Yes, son. And believe me. It was not easy. I had to sneak out, not only our house, but Heaven… I had to lie to see her, to cheat, and to lie again. I loved her with all my being, and she did not even know who the boy was, who visited her night after night…” He took a break, the silence in the air was only interrupted by his hasty breathing. Then he continued.

“One night, I snuck out again, I was followed by a few other young angels, who couldn’t bear that I refused to tell them where I was going, when I disappeared. They followed me carefully, to see where I went, and on the way, they were attacked by a group of demons who happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time. My friend’s careful distance to me was a curse, since I couldn’t hear what happened behind me, and they barely made it out alive, my best friend was injured so badly, it took him months to heal. We remained best friends to this day, but I still have nightmares, that it could have been my fault that he died. It speaks for him that he never held it against me. But he was hurt for a long time to find out, that I refused to tell him my secret and made a mere human girl more important in my existence, than he was.”

Aquilo took another break and his breathing sounded shallow and hasty. His hand seemed to wipe his face, but Anghariel couldn’t discover anything that needed to be wiped off. He remained quiet until his father decided to pick up where he left off.

“I had to think hard about what happened, and I felt guilty. But also, I was in love. And even though I loved my best friend like a brother, I still was addicted to that human girl. I was young and didn’t know any better. I was with her whenever I could. We were teenagers, I was, in angel years counted, barely older than her fifteen years… and one night, she told me, trembling with fear, that she expected my child…” I knew, right then and there, that rule breaking always has a price. This one could cost me my spot in Heaven.”

He shook his head and snorted. “It was a different time back then, and I loved her. I never, for one second, considered to run, or to hide what I had done. There were consequences, and despite only being little more than a boy myself, I would take responsibility. What I did not know, was that no matter what my intentions were, they were doomed.”

Aquilo turned around to look at Anghariel. “Son, this is going to be very, very painful for you. To listen, and to take your own responsibility on your path.” Another break before he added: “I went to my father, Angel Commander Rezakiel in Archangel Raphael’s Army, stood in front of him and told him of my rule breaking, my young love, the child, and that I would give up my angel future to be with her and my baby, stand with them, work for them and with them, and make sure they had a decent life. I expected an outburst of rage or despair from my father. What I did not expect was his laughing fit. When he recovered, he told me: “Well, son. I admit, I am impressed, by your impertinence to stand there, tell me, what is going to happen, and your alleged sacrifice – without having the slightest clue that things are never as easy as they seem. The only reason, why I am not going to beat you into a clump is, that you have a spine, and the guts to come to me and confess about your wrongdoing.”

Aquilo smiled a little, sad smile… “Then he grabbed me by the neck and dragged me to Archangel Raphael, which scared the living daylight out of me, and I had to confess a second time that day. Before Raphael said anything to me, he sent my father out of the room. Then he sat down with me on a bench and told me calmly: “Your father is right to bring you here, young Aquilo. You need help, our help to be precise.” He got up and suggested: “Let’s go for a walk.” And that we did. After a while Archangel Raphael asked me: “Do you know the difference between the human and the angel spiritual anatomy?” To my utmost shame I did not. I had to skip classes to visit my human girl, and these were the ones I would have learned about this. Raphael explained me that my human girl would not survive carrying an angel baby to full-term. This was only one of the reasons why physical relationships between Humans and Angels were taboo. The very few so-called ‘Nephilim’, offspring from Angels and Humans, were often neglected, ejected from society… instead of doing what they swore to do, protect humans, they ever so often turned over to the dark side. To a certain extent that is understandable. Who would want to stay with a crowd that is notoriously nasty?” He saw his son’s face and nodded. “Right, I thought so too.”

Then Aquilo’s eyes darkened, as he added. “Archangel Raphael made me swear that I would never meet my human girl again, neither in this, nor in the next world, and I stood true to my oath. He assured me that she would be fine, and even though I never forgot who and what she was for me, I was told, she never forgot about the ‘youngster’ who wanted to take responsibility for a horrible ‘error’… Indeed, I do not know what had happened, but she passed away when she was in her 90s, old and white haired, after a long and happy life. She gave birth to five children, and none of them looked like me.”

Aquilo turned around, a sad smile on his face. “I want you to turn around, son. Do not repeat my mistakes. It is a tragedy to be separated from the one you love. You cannot protect her, you cannot look out for her, you cannot be with her – unless you give up everything you have at this moment, separate from Heaven, your friends, your family – and live a lifetime with her, or not, depending on where life will take you. You would have learned about the Nephilim, if you had not skipped school, son. I admire you did not try to find excuses or lie to me, and I acknowledge that everyone can make mistakes, even the best of us. But this needs to find an end or demands your full dedication – and sacrifice. And believe me, son… this girl is not worth it.”

Anghariel looked at his father and frowned. Then, unexpectedly he asked: “Father, does your name have a meaning?”

Aquilo stared at his son with disbelief in his eyes, then he chuckled. “It means ‘North Wind’ in Greek. Why? Is this important?” Anghariel nodded. “Probably… see… I always admired you for your flying abilities. I am scared I could never live up to your expectations, become as tall as you, as good as you, as good a flier as you are… and here I am, so different from you, and I am making the same mistakes as you do.” Aquilo remained silent. He knew his son.

After a while Anghariel shook his head. “You said, she is not worth it… why would you say that? She said, she loves me.”

Aquilo shrugged. “I said ‘I love you’ to a thousand girls and women before I met your mother, and these words meant the moment for me, not more. When I hug your mother, in one moment of overwhelming connection and love, I tell her, ‘you mean the world to me’, because that is what it is, not less than the world. What, if these three words, who have such an enormous meaning to you, do not mean the same for your girl?”

Anghariel thought about it for a while, then he said. “It would break my heart.”

Aquilo nodded. “I understand that. Your mother told me, that despite all your humor, your good mood, your laughter, there is something deep inside of you, which gives you the extraordinary ability to love, deeper than the ocean, and about as strong. Mothers can sense something like that, much better than we men can… and I believe her. I am not surprised, that a heartache is what you expect to experience. But also, son, do not forget – it will pass… This might not be the first, only, and last heartache you will face. It will just be the first of many… do not forget… you are a strong, very strong young angel… stronger than I was and ever will be. And you are immortal. Remember her, son. But leave her be… please.”

Anghariel shook his head. “Now I want to know everything. Father, please.”

Aquilo shrugged. “There is nothing more to tell, son. I rather leave it like this. Here, as we are now, it is good… remember her as she was…”

Anghariel interrupted his father. “What happened?” Aquilo took his time, and several times tried to say something, only to close his mouth again, and take another few minutes to think what to say next. The young angel did not try to force his father. He just waited.

Finally, Aquilo turned around, held his hand out and waited for his son to grab it… the older angel covered his son’s hand with his other one and then started to submit pictures and memories to Anghariel, who held his breath for a moment… closing his eyes, and smiled… until within a few minutes, the smile died, and was replaced by tears collecting in his eyes and softly and silently rolling down his cheeks. His handsome face was a mask of terror and pain…

…” I understand you’re meeting with my son on a regular basis?” Aquilo’s voice asked. The girl replied: “And your son is…?” Aquilo frowned. “You meet more than one boy?” The beautiful girl laughed. “Of course, I do. I need to find a future husband. The youngsters are out of the race before they even start. I want a man who can offer me a house, servants, money, nice clothes… you get the drift. Only an older man can give me that. The young ones are for fun.” Aquilo frowned. “My son would easily be the most handsome one you’re seeing.” She chuckled. “Yes, sure. The one with the weird name, who is helpless and hopeless, when it comes to physical intimacy. Too shy… I need a bit more than holding hands and a few kisses.” Aquilo shook his head. “Didn’t you tell him you’ll wait for him, never leave him, and love him?” The girl could not hide her amusement any longer. “Of course, I did… he is like a puppy dog. He needs love. He needs the feeling of being adored. And I need some good amusement. I barely laughed as much as…” Her voice trailed off, when she investigated Aquilo’s beautiful face, and suddenly her entire expression changed from defensive to seductive. “But why should I put up with the unexperienced son, if I have someone here, who clearly can give me what I want?” – Aquilo’s face grimaced in disgust. “Do not bother, please. I have someone home, who gives me what I need, and believe me… you are not even considered ‘competition’.” Her pretty face got angry, and even dark and ugly, when Aquilo finally said: “You will never see my son again. You might have had a chance, maybe, one day, to become his one and only, his consort, his love… But you do not have what it needs to fulfill this task.” Her voice eagerly asked. “And what would that be?” Aquilo simply replied: “A pure, loving and caring heart.” Then he turned around and left her there, with a dumbstruck expression on her face…

Anghariel opened his tear wet eyes… “She used me?” Aquilo nodded. “In the worst sense of the word. She used you to her own amusement, to satisfy her need to be adored, she never considered you seriously as a partner… unless, she had known you are an angel, of course, then you would have been her status symbol, something that had elevated her over all and everybody in her limited little world. She mocked you and laughed about you, son, while she had other men…” He took a deep breath, wishing he would know his son better, praying he would know if Anghariel would be comforted by a fatherly hug… So, he decided to wait.

What he did not expect, was Anghariel’s face switching from one expression to another within nanoseconds: embarrassment, humiliation, sadness, anger, rage, and finally, total emptiness… Anghariel was crushed, even Aquilo, who rarely permitted himself to show emotions, which helped him in his daily professional life, but was a limited success with his family, could see that his son had lost all hope that might have lived within him.

After quite some time, Anghariel looked over the mountains and hills and smiled. “What do you think, Father? Do we have time for a little race between these snow-covered peaks and mountains?” Aquilo laughed. “I would say, let us just take the time before going home, son. I will give you a little head start.” His son chuckled. “I doubt, that will be necessary. I know my wings.” On Aquilo’s sign, they both shot up in the air and shot through the mountains like bullets, using the wind and every advantage they could find to be victorious. And finally, Aquilo won, but only by a hairbreadth.

He turned to Anghariel and laughed, surprised to see his son standing proud with a wide smile on his face. “You’re growing up, my son.” Aquilo said proudly. “I better start working out more, if I want to delay an embarrassing situation in the near future.” His son laughed loudly. But because Aquilo did not know his son well enough and was not overly adept in the recognition of emotions, he did not hear the high pitch of underlying sadness, and the trace of despair, that Anghariel would never lose again, for a very, very long time.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Rights vs. Copyright: Untangling the Confusion – Written By Victoria Strauss for ‘Writer Beware’

Copyright, literally, is “the right to copy.” It guarantees the authors of creative works–including books,  artworks, films, recordings, and photographs–the exclusive right to allow others to copy and distribute the work, by whatever means and in whatever media currently exist. It also prohibits copying and distributing without the author’s permission, and includes moral rights: the right of attribution (the right to be named as the creator of the work) and the right of integrity (the right to control changes to the work).

In countries that are signatory to the Berne Convention,, the international source for copyright law (including the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe, and  many other countries), you own copyright, automatically, as soon your work is fixed in tangible form–i.e., the minute you write the words. Your ownership extends beyond your death–between 50 and 70 years, depending on which country you’re in.

Contained within copyright is the entire bundle of rights that authors can grant to others or utilize themselves. For book authors, that includes primary rights (the right to publish in print and digital formats) and subsidiary rights (the right to make translations and audio recordings and films, to create serializations or abridgements or derivative works…the list goes on, and continues to expand as technology makes different forms of publication and distribution possible).

When you sign a publishing contract, you are granting the publisher permission to exploit (i.e., to utilize for profit) some or all of your rights, and/or to license those rights to others, in exchange for a share of income. Because you own the copyright, granting rights doesn’t mean you lose or abandon those rights: merely that you authorize someone else to exploit them for a time, either exclusively (the publisher is the only one that can exploit them) or nonexclusively (you can simultaneously grant them to others).

Eventually, once the contract term expires, or the publisher decides the book is no longer profitable, the  publisher will cease publication and terminate its claim on your rights. This is known as rights reversion. Sometimes reversion is automatic (as in a contract that extends for a set period of years). Sometimes you can request reversion after certain conditions have been met (as in a life-of-copyright contract). Once your rights have reverted, you are free to re-sell them or to use them yourself, as you choose.

For many readers of this blog, the above will seem pretty elementary. But confusion about the difference between rights and copyright is common–not just among authors (one especially frequent misplaced fear is that granting rights to a publisher means you lose them forever), but among inexperienced publishers. If I had a dollar for every small press contract I’ve seen that hopelessly conflates rights and copyright (for instance, taking possession of copyright but reserving a variety of subsidiary rights to the author), my husband and I could treat ourselves to a very fancy dinner.

Some suggestions on how to untangle the confusion and protect yourself:

– First and foremost, understand copyright and the rights it gives you.

There’s detailed information on the Copyright page of the Writer Beware website (including a discussion of various copyright myths). Countries’ copyright offices, such as the US Copyright Office, the UK Intellectual Property Office, and the Australian Copyright Council, are also good sources of information.

As always in publishing, the more you know, the more likely it is that you’ll recognize bad contract clauses when you run across them.

CONTINUE READING HERE

A Loyal Defender – A Riddle

Picture courtesy of Google.com

We are not unique, but still we’re a sight

We are beautiful and widely spread

Some like us well, some call us pests

We’re loud, with gray clothes and a black head.

**

We have to stick together, to keep us safe

We’re defensive, rude, and possessive too.

There are predators all over us

Old ones, known ones and a few new ones too.

**

We’re in danger, every time, every day

Coyotes, bears, foxes, dogs, they all can kill

Birds of prey, crows, badgers are danger

But we’re defensive, and holding on, still.

**

We are monogamous, which simply means for you

We mate for life, once we found our match.

We stay together all our life,

Convinced we’ll never find a better catch.

**

We share our life and do things together

From traveling to building nests

We’re carrying all our burdens as a couple

Including eggs, fleas and other pests.

**

Our babies can be numerous,

They have been counted, up to sometimes nine.

But an average of five, is considered normal

And to us, that’s good, and we’ll be fine.

**

We travel in unexpected heights, you can guess?

Normal is up in the air, at 3200 feet.

We fly in formation, forming a letter

And the V isn’t for victory, or mainly to greet.

**

We can be found all over Eurasia, the Americas

And further North, as our name should tell.

We can find our way through thousands of miles

Through sunshine, heaven, and sometimes Hell.

**

It is horrible that we are not only prey for mammals

We’re also demanded for human food.

No matter what, humans are dangerous

And they don’t contribute to our good mood.

**

They have been known to threaten us and our loved ones

They clear out our nests, kick us and shy us away

They have been known to run us over on purpose

Hoping we’d end up on their serving tray.

**

By now you should have found out who we are

Despite calling us pests, for our droppings and fleas

Still, you love to see our nests and the babies

And yes… we are called: Canada Geese.

*****

(Copyright, Aurora Jean Alexander, April 2023)

Canada Goose – Picture courtesy of Google.com

The Big Move – Of An Author Website

I have had my website www.aurorajeanalexander.com for as long as I have my blog. And we all know that blog celebrated its 8th anniversary, and has been growing steadily.

Now I decided on a really tough challenge. I will move my website.

My current website provider has been excellent with customer service… (I figured, that might have been because they don’t have that many customers anymore, but I’m not entirely sure about this.)

Also, it was extremely easy to work with their Website Builder, which translated everything into HTML code. Despite that anything special you wanted to do had to go via the editing of the existing HTML code, it was no big thing to make changes or add things quickly.

Other than that, unfortunately, the entire way of working, tutorials, explanations, forums, etc., are completely overaged. SEO ranking was a possibility they took into consideration, but linked that problem to other, outsourced providers. 8 – 10 years ago, this might have been sufficient, nowadays, unfortunately it isn’t anymore.

When you Google A.J. Alexander, which is the name I publish ‘The Council of Twelve’ series with, you’ll be provided with ‘The Other A.J. Alexander’, namely Angela Joy Alexander, who writes steamy romance novels. She’s a great author, I admire her creativity and talent! But then, she’s not me, and currently she occupies the first 28 positions on Google.com search results, only occasionally interrupted by some Baseball player with the same name – I’m nowhere in sight.

This has to change – and I’m not going on with a website provider who is completely unable to help me with my SEO, ranking, optimization and so on…

Currently WordPress is among the best Website Providers globally, which, of course, also gives me the possibility to include my blog in my website.

So, yes… that’s what’s currently happening!

It will take another moment, until everything is finalized. So far the ‘movers’ are doing phenomenal work! The domain name still will have to be moved, and also, it seems, this WordPress blog is going to be integrated into my domain website soon, and then will be promoted from there.

I look forward to changing all links to my blog. HAHA

That will, once more, be some kind of extra-work. But I’m convinced, it will bring many advantages that go with the work!

And I have AMAZING people doing this for me: Thank you, Scott Coatsworth from Otherworldsink.com! A huge shoutout to you and your great work!

Keep writing, authors!

Picture courtesy of Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A Sexy Historical Romance Bamboozlement

Perfect for Historical Romance in the 19th century, when all the Lords, Dukes, Barons, and so on, from the old, wealthy, royal families, tried to keep their aristrocratic crap together and marry wealthy daughters to renovate their ancient sheds they called ‘family home heirloms’… it was a turbulent – and very romantic time back then in old England.

The young, heartbroken and distrusting heir, the young Duke undresses his love interest, opens her dress, his hand finds a very sensitive spot, and then…

Right… opens her dress and then the things are going on. HAHA To be precise, he actually had to peal her out of layers of clothing like an onion. I figure, by the time she was nude, he must have been covered in sweat and exhausted and lost interest.

Ladies fashion in history barely permitted a light and easy rendezvous in the hay. Ladies were dressed like onions. Everything was carefully connected, buttoned, bowed, sewn, bound, and hung together…

Women wore undergarments in wool, linen, and other odd material (I don’t even want to know how it was to sit in those) … then a bodice, a corset, a blouse, and then the ‘cage’, or ‘petticoat’, made of stiff material, wood, steel or horsehair, onto which the skirt was placed, using up endless amounts of fabric, ruffled, decorated, mounted on top of each other…

Women back then tended to the extremes, considering, they did not have much else to do, and the wealthier women’s petticoats became so extended, that they had difficulties moving around, if the ground wasn’t perfectly even.

Picture courtesy of: RCSENG.ac.uk

Also, these dresses and skirts were a severe health hazard to the ladies. Since the crinolines were worn by aristocracy as well as the common women, they were in constant danger.

Women’s skirts have been caught in machinery and they could not free themselves in time. After bone-breaking torture, the owner of the dress passed away by organ failure, internal bleeding, or strangulation. In other cases, a sudden faintness made them fall into water, and the heavy fabrics pulled them under water and made it impossible to somehow safe themselves, they drowned. There have been known cases when women’s crinolines caught fire and the ladies wearing them literally burned to death.

The corsets the ladies wore did not make it easier for them. In an unhealthy way to give the impression of a small waist they endangered themselves, risking organ injuries, respiratory problems and more. Fainting was a common thing in these times.

While the crinolines slowly narrowed to a more ‘natural’ silhouette, mainly ‘cushioned’ on their backside, while the front was almost straight, the famous ‘hourglass figure’ needed to be pronounced, which resulted in the production and wearing of tight and unhealthy corsets.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

They were made of metal and bone, hooks in the front, adjustable laces in the back, which gave desperate Nannies and Mothers the opportunity to deform their daughters and fosterlings to the extreme, sometimes with as little waist as 17 inches, leading to organ displacement and deformed ribcages.

Picture courtesy of rcseng.ca.uk

Now, in hot steamy romance books, there is always this natural beauty, slim, elegant, with a perfect body that does not need corsets… She is, of course, the one on the cover, in a low cut high slitted sexy dress, that reveals more than it hides…

Picture courtesy of Pinterest.com

And considered the story is somewhat around the last third of the 19th century, every bit of her clothing is completely and totally un-authentic!

What are we going to do with this quite disturbing piece of information that ruins the reading fun with our 19th Century Romance book? I’m not sure if there’s anything we can do… Keep the cover picture in your memory and go on reading. *chuckle*

A Medieval Nightmare

Don’t we all know the wonderful romantic History Love stories, situated in medieval England, where when royalty was still royalty… and every noble family was more or less related to the king, a few direct blood lines, but most of them from illegal descendants…

All these princesses and princes, dukes, lords, and ladies were always beautiful, images for health and happiness, slim, ‘muscular’ or ‘full-breasted’, depending on the gender identification…

And they kept falling in love – ALL THE TIME! Lowly servants never fell in love… only noble people did… and everything was always beautiful (except the old and evil villain, of course, who threatened to unjustly rob the young ladies’ virtue). And they lived happily ever after.

____________________________________________________________________

Okay, time for a bit reality!

The ‘Middle Ages’, or ‘Medieval’ began after the collapse of the Roman Empire, around the late 5th century and lasted until approx. the late 15th century, which means, they span around 1,000 years.

After the fall of Rome (End of the 4th century, Roman emperor Theodosius divided the empire between his two sons, one of them located in Rome, the other one in Constantinople (today’s Istanbul in Turkey). The Eastern Roman Empire lasted until the Ottoman conquests of the 15th century. The Western Empire, governed from Rome, ended by late 5th century, succumbing to repeated invasions from the Goths, marking the early medieval era.

During the first approx. 500 years, agricultural technology and farming techniques improved, and increased food crop supported the rapid population growth.

During these times, the early middle age kingdoms experienced a surprisingly interconnected world, spreading many cultural, religious, and economic developments.

The rise and dominance of the Catholic Church was a hallmark of the medieval epoch and formed the High Middle Ages significantly.

Between 1000 and 1250 AD the church sanctioned the military pilgrimages known as the ‘Crusades’ during which thousands of Europeans traveled to the Middle East to conquer former Christian holy sites from Muslim ‘invasion’.

During these times, the Catholic church was sanctuary for many common people across Western Europe as peasants faced bad education and poor medical support. They turned to their church for support, comfort, and help.

During the High as well as the Late Middle Ages, numerous military conflicts, invasions, and wars were fought, one of them the infamous ‘Hundred Years’ war between England and France from 1337 to 1453. Uncountable royal families demanded control of Europe’s borders, hoping for income through passageways, customs, leases, and taxes.

At the same time that England fought against France, they also faced a series of battles against the Kingdom of Scotland, including the later famous King of Scotland Robert the Bruce, and the famous ‘Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, where Scottish armies led by Sir William Wallace defeated the English Armies.

Also in the same time span the plague haunted Western Europe, with the Black Death seeking the lives of an estimated 150 million people across Europe and Asia between 1347 and 1351.

The life expectancy in these times were at around 31 years… This number, however, demands a small explanation. The high mortality rate of newborns and toddlers lowered the general life expectancy significantly. Statistically seen: if a landowner and superior made it past the childhood, they could sometimes see the sun go up on their 60th birthday… but as a peasant, due to poor life conditions, low hygienic standards, and insufficiently prepared medical support, they barely made it past 30.

_________________________________________________________

Generally, to fall in love under these circumstances was probably not the best idea, however, noble people did it all the time…

Beauty standards in these times were trending to the fuller figured women, since they signaled the presence of money. (How? Because if they had the chance and time to just sit around and eat while their servants, maids and chefs did all the work, there was wealth and power involved). However, a man had to be slim to signal his ability to fight (and protect his family) and fulfill his marital duties, while a overweight man was considered lazy.

Brides at the age of 13 or 14 were no rarity, normally given away for an enormous bride token. Women were subordinate to men, every ‘big’ decision had to be made by the man/husband, while women were responsible for the smooth running of the household.

The diet and comfort were quite limited, and the lack of hygiene facilitated the unrestricted spreading of germs, bacteria, and viruses. Diseases like dysentery, diphtheria, typhoid, smallpox, and leprosy were quite common during these times, among peasants and noble people.

Fleas, lice, round- and whipworms were common among peasants and noble people. Often intestine parasites were killed by ointments like ‘mercury’, which, of course, is extremely dangerous… the tiniest overdose, and you did not see the next morning…

Regular bathing and washing were a rarity in the medieval. Common lavatories and bathrooms were not planned in houses. The lack of possibilities to wash up and bathe, of course, facilitated the spread of parasites and diseases.

The dirt and illnesses helped big time to limit life expectancy… under these circumstances, how high were the chances to survive an open battle wound?

In these times, even a small cut with a knife could end up in a horrible infection which cost the person’s life without fail.

_________________________________________________________

Now, considering all this information… how likely is the ‘true love and history-charged’ romance in ‘Medieval England’ in these “Historic Romance” books we all love so much?

Let us say… if my above-mentioned harsh reality of these times hasn’t ‘cured’ you from adoring ‘Historic Romance’, a genre, which is read by, statistically seen 82% women… how about this:

How would you like to perform the ‘Act of Sin’ or ‘Fulfill Your Marital Duties’ with a man, who constantly drinks alcohol, mead, wine, and beer, barely eats much else than meat and Apples, which turn his bowels into a never-ending gas-production-site… constantly sweats and overheats, before, during and after a strong and male workout and exercise with a sword… rides horses, has lice and fleas, diarrhea caused by worms, never brushes his teeth, grabs any willing maid around the castle to roll around in the hay with her… and: despite all this: NEVER bathes?

And to the 18% male fans of the genre: How would you like to engage in ‘mattress-sports’ or ‘perform your marital duties’ with a woman who drinks wine, and liquor, eats little more than meats, fruit, and dairy, constantly snacks on sweets, while not doing anything else than produce embroidery and farts, never brushers her teeth, rarely changes her clothing, carries lice, fleas, and worms, and despite all this, NEVER bathes?

Exactly…

_________________________________________________________

And here I am, admitting now to you, that I love a good Historic Romance now and then – and I just pretend I do not know anything about the harsh times in these dark times… and try to enjoy… until something happens in the book – my knowledge hits, and I’m bursting into laughter.

Wasn’t it more fun when you did not know about the truth?

(Royalty Free Image courtesy of Depositphotos.com)

Happy Easter 2023

It’s getting spring, warmer weather is on the horizon… According to the world, today is this one day in the year, where an unusual species is visible: a multi-colored egg laying bunny!

To the ones who look at this day with the eyes and thoughts on it’s origins: I’m with you there. I know, what’s celebrated today. I keep these thoughts to myself, and also, the prayers. They’re stored in my heart, and that’s where they will remain.

Life is going on… like so many others, I get up, I go to work, I live, I smile, I laugh… and still, I’m in a waiting position. Waiting for what’s to come. In the middle of life, there’s a trace of love, a trace of hope, and a trace of change still.

But today, I’ll celebrate spring, the sunshine, and smiles…

I wish you and your loved ones Happy Easter.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Second Time’s A Charm – Kenna Campbell – Pre-Order Now!

Title: Second Time’s A Charm

Series: The New Romance Café Collection #28

Purchase Link:https://books2read.com/tnrc2024secondtimesacharm

Goodreads Link:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/122963068-second-time-s-a-charm

Blurb:

Is love better the second time around or are we just repeating past mistakes? How do you know if you are falling back into bad habits or falling into your happily ever after? 

Find out  in this spicy  collection containing enticing stories from USA Today best-selling and award-winning romance authors curated by The New Romance Cafe, with ALL proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.


Featured Author: Kenna Campbell

Social Media & Website Links: https://linktr.ee/kennacampbell 

Bio: 

Jenna D Morrison is an up-and-coming author of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction with a side of romance. She has been an avid reader since she was four and started writing for her own enjoyment in middle school.

She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her mother and their very spoiled fur babies. When she is not reading or writing, Jenna is a Zen Buddhist priest, an amateur genealogist, a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, and aunt.

Kimberly A Campbell is a mother of four beautiful adult souls, grandmother to one amazing eight year old and has been a teacher to many young students that she loves as her own. She has always had a love for reading, writing and storytelling, advocating that same love in the children she’s crossed paths with along the way. She’s always dreamed of becoming an author, and is excited to finally have the opportunity to do so, with a focus on fantasy, paranormal and science fiction, which are her favorite genres. Kimberly makes her home in with her doting, supportive husband, children and many rescue cats in Houston, Texas. When she isn’t reading she enjoys spending time with her family, playing video games with her friends and baking delicious things she never eats.

Together, Jenna D. Morrison and Kimberly, best friends for nearly 20 years, write contemporary romance and young adult fantasy as Kenna Campbell.