Nereids

The Nereids are sea nymphs of the Mediterranean.  It was said there were fifty of these daughters to Nereus and the nymph Doris, and they lived with their father in an underwater dwelling.  These young and beautiful maidens were also part of Poseidon’s retinue.  They either had lovely blue hair, or striking golden hair, depending on what you read.  Individually, they are also said to represent various aspects of the sea: foam, brine, currents, shores, etc.  Unlike some mermaid and siren myths, the Nereids gave aid to sailors and fishermen and were therefore worshiped in port towns.

Nereid riding Sea Bull via/ wikipedia

Art often depicts them riding various sea creatures, from dolphins to sea monsters such as Cetus.  In addition to having power over the sea, they inherited the ability to shape shift from their father.

Thetis is the most famous and sometimes called the leader of the Nereids.  Peleus sought her for a bride and managed to capture her.  She changed shape repeatedly, becoming water, fire, a lioness, and a serpent, but still Peleus held fast and did not let her go.  So, she finally consented to marry him.  Later, she gave birth to Achilles.

For more information and images of the Nereids, you can check out theoi.com.

In Elemental Magic, Aileen begins having visions of her deceased mother.  She chalks it up to stress, until an encounter with a sea dragon—Cetus to be precise—has her questioning if perhaps her mother wasn’t human like she thought.  And if she’s the half-daughter of a Nereid, what does that mean for her?

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Meet Buffy

This girl’s got spunk. She can tussle with the best of ‘em and still manage to look stylish doing so. She’s got an outfit for every occasion—vampire slayings, demon vanquishing, averting the apocalypse. Though, these activities have been known to get messy. Being a vampire slayer is not easy on the wardrobe. There was this one chiffon blouse, a gorgeous cream with frills at the neck…anyway, Buffy tangled with a big, badass vamp from a biker gang. We’re talking the complete black leather get-up, hulking shoulders stretching the seams, and sunglasses (yes, at night <eyeroll>). Not to worry, Buffy did a few back flips, a few kicks, gave him a lesson in fashion, and finally staked him through the heart. Except he sort of burst like a popped balloon, raining down bits of vampire dust on her clothes and hair. Tragically, the chiffon didn’t make it. That’s the sacrifice a heroine must make, however. So vamps beware, this girl’s got a horn and hairspray, and she’s not afraid to use them.

Now you tell me, what are some other fashion faux pas Buffy’s had to slay?  I look forward to reading your comments!

*This pony was made with General Zoi’s Pony Creator.

Want to read about another kickass heroine?  Don’t miss the excitement in Dreamwalker, now available on Amazon and B&N!  Two dreamwalkers: one a devout soldier, the other a rogue assassin. Last one standing wins.

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Why Vampires Don’t Make Good Dance Partners

Ladies Beware: Vampires do not make good dance partners.

One of these deliciously dark, sexy creatures of the night will try to dazzle you with his skilled ballroom moves.  After all, he’s been around for centuries; he was there when the Waltz was considered a scandalous dance.  He’ll walk up to you, flash a gleaming smile, maybe cock his head, and invite you onto the dance floor.  At first, you’ll think you’re lucky—”He’s dancing with me!”—and you’ll feel self-conscious about your poor dance skills in comparison but he’ll make you look good.  He’ll twirl you out into a spin you can’t quite keep up with, and he’ll tell you not to mess up the purity of the dance, but he’ll do it with that dashing smile.

Do not fall for it, ladies!

You see, with the age that hones his dance moves, the vampire gentleman develops this sense of superiority and chauvinistic attitude.  He thinks it’s sexy the way he leers at you during the Merengue, and he’ll tell you it’s one of the sensual dances as he roves his hands over your body.  Really, though, he only sees a piece of flesh.  You don’t even need to talk because that’s not important.

Besides, any talk will come from him.  He will love to regale you with stories of his dancing journey, and of course, kindly try to teach the poor, stumbling human.  He will attempt to compliment you, but the vampire’s ego cannot stand to truly praise another being, so he will wrap his accolades in smiles and giggles, while simultaneously pointing out how lowly and pathetic you are.

“Women are so smart.  They can predict what the male lead is going to do.  But see, that gets them into trouble, because then they anticipate the lead’s directions before he gives them, and they screw up the dance.”

Sounds like women are poodles performing tricks.

Okay, back to the piece of flesh.  Ladies, some of these ballroom dances get quite up close and personal.  The Tango, for instance, involves pressing your bodies right up against each other.  And when the gentleman pulls you into a corte, you’re giving him the perfect view—and striking pose—for the artery in your neck.

You can spot these vampires rather easily.  Aside from the pasty complexion and the penchant for all black, they ooze self-aggrandizement.  They will attempt to sweep you off your feet, but when you fail to come back down and pick up the proper steps, they blame you, perhaps mock you in a boyish way they think is clever, or they simply move on without trying to improve the communication.  You see, a failed dance is always the man’s fault.  A true gentleman will acknowledge he is the responsible party for keeping the dance going.  If the lady fails, it is because he did not signal clearly enough.

Ladies, do not get swept away by the charms of these vampires.  Dance wisely.

Dancing with assassins in black is also dangerous.  Don’t miss the excitement in Dreamwalker, now available on Amazon and B&N!  Two dreamwalkers: one a devout soldier, the other a rogue assassin. Last one standing wins.

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Special Sneak Peek: Dreamwalker

The release is looming closer!  And to give you a taste, here’s an excerpt I hope you enjoy.

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Lexa’s eyes snapped open at the barest touch of a cold steel’s sharp edge against her neck. She reached behind and grabbed a collar, swinging its bearer over her shoulder. The man in black rolled to his feet with ease, an intrigued grin on his face. Lexa stared at him in surprise and uncertainty—she had never met another person in the dreamscape before.

“You’re quick,” he remarked with strange satisfaction.

Lexa narrowed her eyes and circled him like a wary lioness. “Who are you?” He sidestepped to match her movements. His all black get-up, from his simple shirt down to his somewhat faded boots, gave him the look of a poor pirate, though not as filthy. Long, light-colored hair tied at the nape of his neck framed rugged features and a sharp jaw line. A slight accent colored his voice, but was too diluted to tell its origin.

“And rather attractive.” He took a moment to look her up and down, his brows lifting in appreciation. “I’ve heard there was another walking the dreamscape. You’re much more appealing than I expected.”

Lexa cocked her head to the side. “Wait till I draw blood.”

“Ooh, feisty, too,” he said while waggling the knife in his hand. “At the moment, I’m the one who’s armed.”

She smirked. “At the moment.”

Lexa raised her arms into a defensive stance and dealt him a swift sidekick to the face. Her boot connected with his jaw and knocked him back. His arms shot out to break his fall and the knife fell into a clump of grass. Still leaning over, he kicked at Lexa’s leg, sending her to her knees. He jumped to his feet again and bounced on his toes as though he found this an entertaining workout. Lexa glowered at him. Rolling onto her hip, she swung her legs around to knock his out from under him. He landed on his back with a grunt, and she arched her leg down to jam her heel on his throat.

He caught her foot, softening the blow, and still he didn’t lose his haughty grin. Around a cough, he smiled and said, “You must tell me your name.”

She snorted in disgust and tried to pull her leg back, but he held fast and yanked her toward him. They both rolled, grappling with each other and laying in well-aimed strikes. Lexa’s elbow brushed the knife lying in the grass and she grabbed it, slashing at his chest. He rolled into a crouch out of reach. Both combatants were breathing heavily from the exertion, but neither lost their air of confidence.

The man got to his feet and backed away. “It was nice meeting you, my lady. I’m sure I’ll have your name soon.”

“Not if you always give up this easily.” Lexa took two steps forward.

He laughed and pressed a hand to his chest. “We’ve only just met. Let’s not rush things.” He bowed with a flourish and tipped an imaginary hat. “And for your pleasure, I am called Dirk.”

Lexa hurled the knife at him, but he vanished into the waking world. It struck the wall before melting into mist.

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Watch for Dreamwalker, out June 30th.  Two dreamwalkers: one a devout soldier, the other a rogue assassin. Last one standing wins.

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Setting Boundaries When Dating a Human

We covered some ground rules for if a human wants to date a vampire, but what about the other way around?  Suppose we’ve got a decent, heroic guy who just happens to be one of the undead?  Just because he drinks blood doesn’t mean he can’t have standards.

1. Don’t ask me to bite you.  I know you’ve read all those paranormal romance books where biting and sex equals the greatest experience on the planet, but trust me, it can get messy.

2. No role-playing.  You’re not Buffy, and I don’t want to see a stake hidden under your pillow.

3. Don’t try to have important conversations or talk me into stuff around dawn when I’m too tried to properly listen.

4. If you’re mad at me, don’t throw my bags of blood down the sink.  That stuff is hard to come by!

5.  I can’t introduce you to Edward, so don’t ask.

What would you add to the list?

Do You Sparkle?

Last week on Debra Kristi’s blog I was introduced to Lindsey Stirling, a dubstep violinist.  Debra wrote a lovely post about the places that call to us, whether for beauty, memories, or energy.  The location in the music video she shared sure was gorgeous, and I can’t help but to share it again here.  But what struck me most about the video was the artist herself.  When Lindsey plays that violin, you can see she loses herself in the music.  The genuine passion, love, and life in her expression is probably what touched me the most.

After I self-published my second book, was writing my third, and had just made the overall decision that this was what I would do with my life, my doctor and friend made this observation: “Your eyes sparkle.”  It didn’t matter if there were still health problems, or if I was in pain; in fact, it didn’t seem to hurt as bad as it used to.  Because I was in love with my life and my pursuits.

I love the story playing out in Lindsey’s music videos.  This sense of awe, delight, and pure joy.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope you fall in love with it just as I did.  And even more so, I hope you live with the same unadulterated passion that makes your eyes sparkle to everyone you meet.

Setting Boundaries When Dating a Vampire

In Dry Spell, Aileen and Colin get a huge surprise when they find out Colin’s sister, Paige, is dating a vampire.  What would a vampire want dating a human anyway?  Frequent flyer meals?

But hey, not all vampires are vicious and evil.  This one’s a private investigator determined to make the world a better place.  He doesn’t sound so bad, except for the liquid diet.  Still, if you’re going to date a vampire, some ground rules should be set in place from the get-go.

1. No biting without express permission.

2. No dropping by before dawn and intentionally getting “stuck” and having to stay until nightfall.

3. Baggies of blood must be kept in a separate, small cooler, not my refrigerator next to the vegetables.

4. Use the front door.  No swinging through my window like you’re Tarzan.  (Or a sparkly, moodier version.)

5. If you’re going to be a hero and go after evil dudes, calling to tell me you haven’t been turned to a pile of ash would be greatly appreciated!

What boundaries would you set with your undead boyfriend?

Cetus the Sea Dragon

Cetus, derived from Ketos, is the Latin name given to multiple sea monsters that appear in Greek mythology, from a serpentine dragon to a blubbering whale monster.

There are two primary tales regarding this creature, and though they feature different characters, the stories are quite similar.  In the first, Queen Cassiopeia boasted that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than any of the Nereides, sea nymphs that made up Poseidon’s retinue.  As punishment, Poseidon sent the sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the land.  In order to appease the sea-god, Andromeda was left on the rocks as a sacrificial offering to the sea dragon.  Luckily, Perseus was returning from slaying Medusa, and he swooped in on Pegasus to save the girl, slaying the dragon by turning it to stone.

In the second, very similar tale, Poseidon had hidden in human form and helped King Laomedon build the walls of Troy.  When the king refused to pay Poseidon for his help, the sea-god sent Cetus as punishment.  Again, it was decided that the only way to get rid of the monster was to offer the king’s daughter as a sacrifice.  (It never bodes well for princesses, does it?)  This time, the hero Hercules swoops in to save the day and slays the beast.

Cetus can also be found amongst the constellations, though his form in the stars is that of the gigantic whale monster.  He lies in the region of the sky where several other water-related constellations are, such as Aquarius and Pisces.

In the movie Clash of the Titans, Cetus is interpreted as the Kraken, an even more massive whale of a monster.

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In Elemental Magic, Cetus is more serpentine like the dragons in the first two pictures.  He’s also quite intelligent, the last of his kind tucked away under a spell until an evil alchemist releases him.

The silhouette against the backdrop of stars was tall and thin, at least compared to the width of a whale. That wasn’t to say it wasn’t incredibly large. It loomed at least seven feet over the top of the ship. Keenan swept the spotlight over it, and I caught a flash of teeth bared in a menacing sneer and bright, blue-green scales. Eyes glowered gold with the reflection of the light.

No. Freakin’. Way.

And, just as in the above tales, poor Cetus is forced to follow orders and wreak havoc along the coast.  I won’t tell you what happens to him though.  You’ll have to read the book.  😉

Do you have a favorite interpretation of Cetus?  If you saw the new Clash of the Titans, how’d you like the Kraken?  With the hero stories being so similar, are you for Perseus or Hercules?

A Lesson in Critiquing via The Voice

Just a note: I’m going to change my regular blogging day to Monday for at least the rest of the school year.  Wednesday is a full day of work, and I’m not around to respond to comments, which I love to do!  That’s it, now on to today’s post.

No matter what you do, at some point in everyone’s life, you will be asked to evaluate, critique, or review something.  Here’s a quick lesson on some things that do and do not make for effective, constructive criticism.  I’ll be using NBC’s The Voice to showcase.

Let’s start with ineffective.

The Misdirect (perfected by Blake Shelton)

When you can’t think of anything positive to say, or perhaps you can’t be bothered to give it much thought (maybe you weren’t paying attention), but you have to say something, picking out something from the peripheral seems like a good idea, right?

“Dude, I was totally fixated on the Egyptian male strippers on stage. …  Yeah, male strippers.”

Riight.  Tip 1: Feedback of any kind should be about the work.  And since books are my field, I’ll give you another example: “The cover really captivated my attention.”  …  Yes?  And?  The actual story?

Okay, next.

Bashing/Making it personal (see Christina Aguilera)

Being outright mean doesn’t help anyone work towards improvement, and making judgmental statements about the person doesn’t give them anything specific to work on.  It just says, “I hate you, so get a day job.”  Everyone can improve if they work hard, and that’s the purpose of feedback/coaching.

“I find you one-dimensional.”

Ouch.  Again, this comment doesn’t reflect on the work being evaluated, but instead focuses on the person behind it.  How is this singer, Tony Luuca, supposed to work on improving his work with a comment like that?  It doesn’t contain any direction.  In this singer’s case, Christina could have said that song felt one-dimensional, or that particular delivery didn’t vary enough for her taste.  But she made it personal and tried to make Tony feel bad.

So again, make whatever you have to say focus on the work being evaluated.

Out of Left Field (courtesy of Cee Lo Green) or, The Table-Turner

I can’t really explain the motive behind this one…uh, Cee Lo appeared stoned one night, so drugs are always an understandable reason.  So make that Tip 2: Be sober when giving feedback.  I also knew someone like this who did it for laughs.  But then it becomes about you, and not the artist, author, book, etc.

“You’re such a beautiful creature.”

Um, thanks?  Beautiful is a nice word; not sure how I feel about being called a creature.  Kind of sexist if you ask me.  And most of the female artists went into the blind auditions wanting to be judged on their voices, not their looks (even the pretty ones didn’t want to win because they were pretty!)  And the feedback they get?  “You’re gorgeous, baby.”  Yeah, they were probably hoping for something a little more constructive—about the work!

Not all hope is lost for these contestants, however!  Adam Levine seems to be the only coach taking his role seriously.

Constructive Criticism (thank you, Adam)

Constructive criticism highlights positive and negatives.  One popular method for this is the sandwich: positive, negative, positive.  It also talks about the work specifically.

“You incorporated what I advised you to do, and that was great.  I would have liked to see this for this type of song.”

Specific, to the point, and gives the singer something tangible to work on for next time.  It doesn’t comment on the singer’s value as a person.  Sure, hearing something wasn’t successful when you tried for that isn’t fun.  But how else will you learn?  That thing didn’t work, so try something else.

So the next time you find yourself in a position to give an opinion on something, whether it be a book review or a peer’s performance in some task (school or work), think about what will be specific and relevant, and give it in good spirit.  And if you can’t think of anything to say, maybe it would just be better if you stayed silent, and didn’t try to comment on the upholstery.  The misdirect really isn’t that subtle.  😉

Though I won’t be on my blog on Wednesdays, I will be guest posting on Marcia Richards’s blog this Wednesday about strong, smart, and sexy women and how I write them in my books.  So head on over later this week!  🙂

Super Sneak Peek: Elemental Magic 3

Last week I posted an excerpt from Dry Spell, Elemental Magic 2.  This week, I’m finishing up the Lucky 7 Meme with a super sneak peek of my current work in progress, the third book in my Elemental Magic series.

For a refresher, the basic rules of this meme:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

I was tagged by  Virginia Ripple, Cassia, and Lena Corazon.  Go check out their excerpts!

Elemental Magic 3

Excerpt

He nodded, rocking back and forward like a kid chanting there’s no monster in the closet.  I stayed still, not wanting to give the wolf side any more reason to feel threatened.  Matt could do this.  I had to believe he could get it under control.

It felt like almost an hour had passed when Matt finally let out a long exhale and leaned back against the cushion.  I hadn’t realized how taut my muscles were until the tension bled out of them, leaving me feeling even more exhausted than before.

“I’m sorry,” Matt said in a low voice.

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Watch for it this fall.  😉  And, for another excerpt, be sure to check out Marcy Kennedy’s blog this Friday when she’ll be interviewing me.

Want to play this game?  I think, instead of tagging specific people, that anyone who wants to should be able to post an excerpt.  Enjoy!