About Heather Kuehl

Heather Kuehl (pronounced "keel") was born near the Great Lakes, but made her way to South Carolina where she lives to this day. She's the author of Epiphany (an ARe best seller) and The Sarah Vargas Series. The first installment of the Sarah Vargas Series, Fade to Black, reached #1 on Fictionwise.com's best seller list for fantasy ebooks. For more information about Heather's published works, upcoming releases, and events visit her website; http://www.heatherkuehl.com/

NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The inspiration for my latest WIP

Ever wanted to know how an author gets inspired to write a certain story? This piece of artwork is the inspiration for my latest WIP.


BTW: My favorite movie of all time is Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Especially the library scene


Guest blogging

I'm guest blogging at Fang-tastic Books today, talking about the joys of paranormal fiction.

http://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/2010/11/welcome-guest-author-heather-kuehl.html

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Where is Just Another Paranormal Christmas?!?!

Well, it seems that Just Another Paranormal Christmas has been delayed. I know that the editors were struggling to finish the cover art and edits by the 27th, but I had hoped that Mojocastle would pull it together in time. When I receive word of the release, I'll let you all know. I hope I'm not the only one looking forward to this awesome anthology.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just Another Paranormal Christmas release!

It's here!

Just Another Paranormal Christmas is available today from Mojocastle Press (http://www.mojocastle.com/) and I'm guest blogging at My Bloody Fairy Tale. Stop by to read blurbs from all the stories included within this anthology and to read an excerpt from my Sarah Vargas short, "The Unexpected Guests."

http://kristenhaskins.blogspot.com/2010/11/guest-post-heather-kuhel.html

Reminder: Just Another Paranormal Christmas is an anthology benefiting the Armed Forces Children’s Education Fund, Inc. For more information about this wonderful cause, please visit their website: http://www.afcef.org/

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem

I'm being interviewed today at Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem (love the blog name, by the way). I'll be talking about what I'm thankful for, NaNoWriMo, and Just Another Paranormal Christmas.

http://moonlightlacemayhem.blogspot.com/2010/11/twilight-thursday_22.html

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy busy

NaNoWriMo is coming to a close, and I've already finished Gray Magic...sort of. Because it's a NaNo creation it's going to need a lot of work, and I have a feeling that there is going to be a lot of scenes cut out of it. I hate useless filler, so if it doesn't help to forward the plot or enhance character development then it's going to have to go.

Tabitha Desdamona Drake is an Enforcer, the person that does the dirty work for the Conclave of witches. The Conclave orders T.D. to find the gray magic witch. A witch wielding gray magic would be able to use dark or light magic without cost, able to end the world with just a thought. The Conclave wants the gray magic witch. With it, they can rule the supernatural world with an iron fist. However, once she gets there T.D. finds that there are more pressing issues to take care of rather than the Conclave's agenda. Witches are being murdered and drained of their magic, and it's up to her to put a stop to it.

Enter Dez, a vampire that works for the Lord of Charleston. As mysterious as he is annoying, Dez accompanies T.D. on her search for the witch killer claiming that the vampire Lord has ordered him to do so. But what does a vampire care about murdered witches? Dez's agenda mirrors the orders from the Conclave, and T.D. quickly realizes that she is in more danger than what she's bargained for.


I can't wait until the manuscript is polished enough to share. T.D.'s story is just begging to be told and Dez's big secret will finally be revealed (for those of you who have been reading the Sarah Vargas Series). As usual, I'm putting Gray Magic aside for a while to let it cool (so to say) and I'm picking up Of Wolf and Man....again. Maybe I'll finally finish it this time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Another Paranormal Christmas is out in 11 days!


There is only 11 days left until the release of Just Another Paranormal Christmas. *happy dance* And I have for you today the blurbs from the stories included within this fine anthology. Enjoy!



A Cornwall Christmas
By Kayden McLeod
A Christmas the Vancouver vampires will never forget

Even vampires celebrate the holidays. Marcus and Kelly wake up Christmas morning with their own extraordinary presents for the other, one of them being blowing up of the kitchen. In an effort to appear more human, the Cornwall’s plan an extravagant dinner, with all the trimmings and more. Differences are put aside; the Council and Covens come together to show that this time of year is only for good tidings.


A Future Holiday
By Candace Sams
Two war-weary galactic defenders rekindle their romance when Armistice corresponds with the holiday season.

In a future society, two lonely fighters return from war. Rorn T’Kar is the commander of an Earth ship which has been battling in space for eight long years. He once loved Lyra Dench, but she apparently found his presence tedious. Lyra couldn’t tell Rorn she’d joined the Infiltration Corps, which unfortunately had an eighty-percent mortality rate. She was ordered to keep her actions secret and knew Rorn would try to keep her from fighting to save Earth. When Armistice finally comes and coincidentally corresponds with the holidays, the magic of the season takes over. Rorn and Lyra meet again, at the end of the war, and find what they thought they’d lost…all by the light of a Yule tree.


The Unexpected Guests
By Heather Kuehl
Damian’s Christmas party is the last place Sarah ever thought she’d find trouble…

Werewolf Sarah Vargas returns to South Carolina to attend a Christmas party thrown by Damian, born vampire and Lord of Charleston. She quickly discovers that The Council - an elite group of vampires - are attending. They are bringing with them two members of the Du'Rah, the vampire's elders. The Du'Rah are pretending to attend Damian's party so that they can initiate him into their ranks, however they have a more sinister plan. Will Sarah be able to save Damian from the true death and still celebrate the holiday season?


Once Upon A Dragon
By K.A. M’Lady

Jeremy Owens and his older siblings want to believe in magic, but hope and belief are difficult things to hold onto even when you’re a child. After the loss of their parents, three young children find themselves fostered off on an Aunt who’s never known the love of a child. This Christmas
will the Owens children find out what it means to believe again? Anything is possible with a little magic.


A Christmas to Remember
By Brigit Aine

Pixie and Wolf politics still abound, but nothing will stop Kira from enjoying her first Christmas as a married woman. Now that they are married, Lance and Kira thought life would settle down.
Unforntunately for them, as Christmas approaches so do their enemies.


Reflections of a Lily in Winter
By Susan Gabriel
A single light shines brightest in the darkest hour of the longest night.

Even a tough cookie can crumble under difficult circumstances. Fourteen year old Lily is drowning in domestic drama and facing the worst Christmas in her life until a distant relative in a faraway place throws her a lifeline. One Christmas spent at Candlewood Manor will open her eyes to a world beyond her imagining and open her heart to the reason behind the season.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back from the Dead....Realms of Fantasy!

You have absolutly no idea how happy this makes me. I actually cried when I found out that this market had closed. Now it'll be back, and in very capable hands. I can't wait to submit to the new RoF!


Press Release

Contacts:
Warren Lapine
Or
Kim Richards
(707) 543-6227
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2:00 P.M.PST, November 8, 2010


Damnation Books LLC buys REalms of Fantasy Magazine

Warren Lapine, publisher of Realms of Fantasy Magazine and Kim Richards Gilchrist, CEO and co-owner of Damnation Books LLC announce the sale of Realms of Fantasy Magazine to Damnation Books LLC.

Fans of the largest fantasy magazine in the world will be pleased to know the December 2010 issue will go to print with the new ownership publishing the February 2011 issue. All subscriptions already paid for will be honored.

Future plans include continuing to produce the same quality fiction magazine in print and to expand digital editions for ebook and desktop readers. The April 2011 issue will be themed ‘dark fantasy’ to coincide with World Horror Convention 2011 where Damnation Books will be hosting a party, and a booth in the dealer’s area.

The June 2011 issue is the 100th issue of Realms of Fantasy Magazine. Plans for a larger ‘birthday bash’ issue are already in place to celebrate this milestone.

Effective immediately, the magazine is reopening to submissions. Information for submitting stories and art can be found on the Realms of Fantasy website at / Advertising inquiries can also find information on the website or by writing to Realms of Fantasy.

The new mailing address is Realms of Fantasy; P.O. Box 1208; Santa Rosa, California 95402

Damnation Books LLC, publishes dark fiction as Damnation Books. They also own and operate Eternal Press, which is more romance and mainstream fiction. Please direct questions to Kim Richards Gilcrist at kim@...

Realms of Fantasy
http://www.rofmag.com


Damnation Books LLC
http://www.damnationbooks.com
http://www.eternalpress.biz

-End-

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spend November With The Ancient Celts

Spend November With The Ancient Celts

By Cornelia Amiri

I write Celtic/Romances so in this article I want to bring the back through the mist of time the ancient days of winter, to the month we call November. The white, waxy mistletoe berries were the last autumn fruit to appear and they marked the transition of the earth from fall to winter. One of the main ways the tribe prepared for the dark cold days was with cattle raids. Any tribe that didn’t have enough livestock to get them through the long, cold winter would consider grabbing some from a neighboring tribe.


Here’s an excerpt of a cattle raid from The Wolf and The Druidess:


“No, he is in danger,” Seren snapped.

“It is our only chance. If we lose milk and beef, the entire tribe could starve during the winter.” Hywell shook his head.

“What harm could possibly befall me? The Silures cannot hurt me if I turn them to ice, first,” Gwydion said.

“My mother would not warn me unless the threat was real,” Seren said. “I myself sense danger, but it may not be from the Silures. You must be careful.”

“Seren, he is a god,” Hywell said.

“Yes, what could happen to me?” Gwydion said.
Rather than answer, she peered into Gwydion’s eyes. “Swear to me, you will take heed.”

“Yes, I will return to you unharmed.” Gwydion pulled his wand from the pouch tied to his side and brandished it high. “I am ready.” He swirled the ash stick, decorated with Celtic spirals, through the air in a sweeping motion.

“Foes of the Ordovices

Your raid is condemned.

I forbid your flight.

Winter’s embrace,

Shall halt your escape,

Frozen like ice.

For the tribe to find.”

A blue light with the power of a lightning bold shot from the wand. Gwydion knew everyone in the village could feel the surge, and he noticed Seren and Hywell had clung to each other during the mighty blast.
“It is done,” he said to them.

“Now you must shift into wolf form,” Seren said to Gwydion as she released her hold on Hywell.

After Gwydion eased off his horse, his body blurred from one form to the next as his limbs shortened and his flesh shifted into a pelt of white fur. The wolf stood before Seren once more.

Hywell gasped. “Gwydion, do not get too near the cattle, you will spook them.”

The wolf nodded, and as he darted off, Seren goaded her horse into a hard gallop. Hywell followed.


The ancient Celts supplemented their diet in the winter by hunting. Boar was a favorite animal to hunt.

So here’s a boar hunting excerpt from Druid Bride:


Loud grunts and yells assaulted her ears as a charging beast and warriors headed straight toward them. She barely managed to jump out of the way of a raging, sharp tusked boar. A warrior burst out of the woods with more fierceness than the wild beast. He leapt like a deer. Beneath his short tunic, his long, lean, bare legs raced at the speed of a bird in flight. He pulled to a halt with the flexibility of a leather thong, bent back and then leaned forward to launch a long, black spear. The weapon soared through the air, struck hard, and impaled the beast. The boar’s high-pitched squeal tore through the forest air as it twitched in its death throes.
Tanwen nodded toward the warrior and his prize. “Good throw.”




Of course one of the main things for the ancient Celts was to figure out how to stay warm on those long winter nights.

Here’s a heated excerpt from Druid Bride:


Tanwen’s fingers played with the golden torque around her neck as she gazed at Brude. She drank in his masculine beauty as he gulped the sweet, thick mead. After the feast, she would honor him in her own way in their chamber, in their bed. Tanwen silently vowed they would heat their bedchamber in the dead of winter, hotter than the glowing hearth fire. Brude gnawed on the leg bone, ravishing it as he gazed at her with fire in his eyes. She burned for him. The pit of his stomach tingled, and it wasn’t from the mead. Her pulse pounded from just gazing at him. She studied the inviting mouth and arresting eyes on his lean, tan face. She reached out her hand and covered his wrist with hers. Lacing his fingers in hers, she squeezed his hand. His lips came down on hers in a slow, shivery kiss. Her mouth burned.

When the harper began to play and the dancing started, Brude stood, taking Tanwen’s hands in his, and pulled her to a standing position as he gazed into her eyes. “I would rather dance with you, alone.”

“Yes.” Tanwen whispered.

Arm in arm, they strolled to the wheelhouse, and as soon as they reached the door, Brude covered her mouth with his. She wrapped her smooth arms around him. Her pulsating heat shot through him. Lifting her off her feet, cradling her in his arms, he carried her inside and laid her on the smooth bull hide draped over the soft pallet. She let out a low, whispery moan. His heart beat erratically.




For more of my ten Celtic/romance novels please visit me at http://CelticRomanceQueen.com And feel free to take one of my novels to bed with you along with a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly November night.

Día de los Muertos

I love the Day of the Dead. Not only is it a very interesting holiday, but it is also the day of my birth. No wonder why I'm so weird! :o) I thought I'd share with you the origins and beliefs about this special day, but since I'm very busy with NaNoWriMo I'm going to cheat and past the info from Wikipedia. ;)

Enjoy!


From Wikipedia:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Due to occurring shortly after Halloween, the Day of the Dead is sometimes thought to be a similar holiday, although the two actually have little in common. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration, where partying and eating is common.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern holiday to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe and in the Philippines, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.


Origins:
The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years.[1] In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the god[2] known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern Catrina.

In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes ("Day of the Innocents") but also as Día de los Angelitos ("Day of the Little Angels") and November 2 as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos ("Day of the Dead").[3]


Beliefs:
People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.[3]

Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period, families usually clean and decorate graves;[2] most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas ("offerings"), which often include orange mexican marigolds (Tagetes erecta) called cempasúchitl (originally named cempoalxochitl, Nahuatl for "twenty flowers").

In modern Mexico, this name is sometimes replaced with the term Flor de Muerto ("Flower of the Dead"). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings.

Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or "the little angels"), and bottles of tequila, mezcal or pulque or jars of atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto ("bread of the dead"), and sugar skulls and beverages such as atole. The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased.[2] Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the "spiritual essence" of the ofrendas food, so even though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so that the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. In many places, people have picnics at the grave site as well.

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes;[2] these usually have the Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other persons, scores of candles and an ofrenda. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so that when they dance, the noise will wake up the dead; some will also dress up as the deceased.

Public schools at all levels build altars with ofrendas, usually omitting the religious symbols. Government offices usually have at least a small altar, as this holiday is seen as important to the Mexican heritage.

Those with a distinctive talent for writing sometimes create short poems, called calaveras ("skulls"), mocking epitaphs of friends, describing interesting habits and attitudes or funny anecdotes. This custom originated in the 18th or 19th century, after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future, "and all of us were dead", proceeding to "read" the tombstones. Newspapers dedicate calaveras to public figures, with cartoons of skeletons in the style of the famous calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator. Theatrical presentations of Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla (1817–1893) are also traditional on this day.

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (colloquially called calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for "skeleton"), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.

José Guadalupe Posada created a famous print of a figure that he called La Calavera de la Catrina ("calavera of the female dandy") as a parody of a Mexican upper-class female. Posada's striking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face has become associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures often are a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances.

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal and often vary from town to town. For example, in the town of Pátzcuaro on the Lago de Pátzcuaro in Michoacán, the tradition is very different if the deceased is a child rather than an adult. On November 1 of the year after a child's death, the godparents set a table in the parents' home with sweets, fruits, pan de muerto, a cross, a rosary (used to ask the Virgin Mary to pray for them) and candles. This is meant to celebrate the child's life, in respect and appreciation for the parents. There is also dancing with colorful costumes, often with skull-shaped masks and devil masks in the plaza or garden of the town. At midnight on November 2, the people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas (Spanish for "butterflies") to Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake where there is a cemetery, to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead there.

In contrast, the town of Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos, opens its doors to visitors in exchange for veladoras (small wax candles) to show respect for the recently deceased. In return, the visitors receive tamales and atole. This is only done by the owners of the house where somebody in the household has died in the previous year. Many people of the surrounding areas arrive early to eat for free and enjoy the elaborate altars set up to receive the visitors from Mictlán.

In some parts of the country (especially the cities, where in recent years there are displaced other customs), children in costumes roam the streets, knocking on people's doors for a calaverita, a small gift of candies or money; they also ask passersby for it. This custom is similar to that of Halloween's trick-or-treating and is relatively recent.

Some people believe that possessing Day of the Dead items can bring good luck. Many people get tattoos or have dolls of the dead to carry with them. They also clean their houses and prepare the favorite dishes of their deceased loved ones to place upon their altar or ofrenda.


Observances outside Mexico:
In many American communities with Mexican populations, Day of the Dead celebrations are held that are very similar to those held in Mexico. In some of these communities, such as in Texas[4] and Arizona,[5] the celebrations tend to be mostly traditional. For example, the All Souls' Procession has been an annual Tucson event since 1990. The event combines elements of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations with those of pagan harvest festivals. People wearing masks carry signs honoring the dead and an urn in which people can place slips of paper with prayers on them to be burned.[6]

In other communities, interactions between Mexican traditions and American culture are resulting in celebrations in which Mexican traditions are being extended to make artistic or sometimes political statements. For example, in Los Angeles, California, the Self Help Graphics & Art Mexican-American cultural center presents an annual Day of the Dead celebration that includes both traditional and political elements, such as altars to honor the victims of the Iraq War highlighting the high casualty rate among Latino soldiers. An updated, inter-cultural version of the Day of the Dead is also evolving at a cemetery near Hollywood.[7] There, in a mixture of Mexican traditions and Hollywood hip, conventional altars are set up side-by-side with altars to Jayne Mansfield and Johnny Ramone. Colorful native dancers and music intermix with performance artists, while sly pranksters play on traditional themes.

Similar traditional and inter-cultural updating of Mexican celebrations is occurring in San Francisco, for example, through the Galería de la Raza, SomArts Cultural Center, Mission Cultural Center, de Young Museum and altars at Garfield Square by the Marigold Project [8] . Oakland is home to Corazon Del Pueblo in the Fruitvale district. Corazon Del Pueblo has a shop offering handcrafted Mexican gifts and a museum devoted to Day of the Dead artifacts.[9] In Missoula, Montana, skeletal celebrants on stilts, novelty bicycles, and skis parade through town.[10] It also occurs annually at historic Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Sponsored by Forest Hills Educational Trust and the folkloric performance group La Piñata, the Day of the Dead celebration celebrates the cycle of life and death. People bring offerings of flowers, photos, mementos, and food for their departed loved ones, which they place at an elaborately and colorfully decorated altar. A program of traditional music and dance also accompanies the community event.


Latin America:
Guatemalan celebrations of the Day of the Dead are highlighted by the construction and flying of giant kites[11] in addition to the traditional visits to grave sites of ancestors. A big event also is the consumption of fiambre, which is made only for this day during the year.

In Ecuador, the Day of the Dead is observed to some extent by all parts of society, though it is especially important to the indigenous Kichwa peoples who make up an estimated quarter of the population. Indigena families gather together in the community cemetery with offerings of food for a day-long remembrance of their ancestors and lost loved ones. Ceremonial foods include colada morada, a spiced fruit porridge that derives its deep purple color from the Andean blackberry and purple maize. This is typically consumed with guagua de pan, a bread shaped like a swaddled infant, though variations include horses and pigs—the latter being traditional to the city of Loja. The bread, which is wheat flour-based today but was made with cornmeal in the pre-Columbian era, can be made savory with cheese inside or sweet with a filling of guava paste. These traditions have permeated into mainstream society as well, where food establishments add both colada morada and gaugua de pan to their menus for the season. Many non-indigenous Ecuadorians partake in visiting the graves of the deceased and preparing the traditional foods as well.

The Brazilian public holiday of Finados (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 2. Similar to other Day of the Dead celebrations, people go to cemeteries and churches with flowers, candles, and prayer. The celebration is intended to be positive to celebrate those who are deceased.

In Haiti, voodoo traditions mix with Roman Catholic observances as, for example, loud drums and music are played at all-night celebrations at cemeteries to waken Baron Samedi, the Loa of the dead, and his mischievous family of offspring, the Gede.

Dia de los ñatitas ("Day of the Skulls") is a festival celebrated in La Paz, Bolivia, on November 9. In pre-Columbian times, indigenous Andeans had a tradition of sharing a day with the bones of their ancestors on the third year after burial; however, only the skulls are used today. Traditionally, the skull of one or more family members are kept at home to watch over the family and protect them during the year. On November 9, the family crowns the skull with fresh flowers, sometimes also dressing it up in various garments, and makes offerings of cigarettes, coca leaves, alcohol, and various other items in thanks for the year's protection. The skulls are also sometimes taken to the central cemetery in La Paz for a special Mass and blessing.[12][13][14]


Europe:
In many countries with a Roman Catholic heritage, All Saints Day and All Souls Day have long been holidays in which people take the day off work, go to cemeteries with candles and flowers, and give presents to children, usually sweets and toys.[15] In Portugal and Spain, ofrendas ("offerings") are made on this day. In Spain, the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed. In Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Ireland, people bring flowers to the graves of dead relatives and say prayers over the dead. In Poland,[16] Slovakia,[17] Hungary,[18] Lithuania,[19] Croatia,[20] Slovenia,[21] Romania,[22] Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives. In Tyrol, cakes are left for them on the table, and the room kept warm for their comfort. In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls.[23]

A Mexican-style Day of the Dead has been celebrated in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of a promotion by the Mexican embassy. Local citizens join in a celebration of the Day of the Dead put on by a theatre group with masks, candles, and sugar skulls.[24]


Asia and Oceania:
In the Philippines, the holiday is Araw ng mga Patay ("Day of the Dead"), Todos Los Santos or Undas (the latter two due to the fact that this holiday is celebrated on November 1, All Saints Day) and has more of a "family reunion" atmosphere.[25] Tombs are cleaned or repainted, candles are lit, and flowers are offered. Entire families camp in cemeteries and sometimes spend a night or two near their relatives' tombs. Card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing are common activities in the cemetery. It is considered a very important holiday by many Filipinos (after Christmas and Holy Week), and additional days are normally given as special non-working holidays (but only November 1 is a regular holiday).

Mexican-style Day of the Dead celebrations can also be found in Wellington, New Zealand, complete with altars celebrating the deceased with flowers and gifts.[26]


Other similar traditions:
Many other cultures around the world have similar traditions of a day set aside to visit the graves of deceased family members. Often included in these traditions are celebrations, food and beverages, in addition to prayers and remembrances of the departed.

The Bon Festival (O-bon (お盆?) or only Bon (盆?) is a Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the departed spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist festival has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people from the big cities return to their hometowns and visit and clean their ancestors' graves. Traditionally including a dance festival, it has existed in Japan for more than 500 years. This holiday is three days in August.

In Korea, Chuseok (추석, 秋夕) is a major traditional holiday, also called Hangawi. People go where the spirits of one's ancestors are enshrined and perform ancestral worship rituals early in the morning; they visit the tombs of immediate ancestors to trim plants, clean the area around the tomb, and offer food, drink, and crops to their ancestors.

The Ching Ming Festival (simplified Chinese: 清明节; traditional Chinese: 清明節; pinyin: qīng míng jié) is a traditional Chinese festival usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar. Along with Double Ninth Festival on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar, it is a time to tend to the graves of departed ones. In addition, in the Chinese tradition, the seventh month in the Chinese calendar is called the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits come out from the underworld to visit earth.

During the Nepali holiday of Gai Jatra ("Cow Pilgrimage"), every family who has lost a family member during the previous year makes a construction of bamboo branches, cloth, paper decorations and portraits of the deceased, called a gai. Traditionally, a cow leads the spirits of the dead into the next land. Depending on local custom, either an actual live cow or a construct representing a cow may be used. The festival is also a time to dress up in costume, including costumes involving political comments and satire.[27]

In some cultures in Africa, visits to the graves of ancestors, the leaving of food and gifts, and the asking of protection serve as important parts of traditional rituals. One example of this is the ritual that occurs just before the beginning of hunting season.[28]

In some tribes of the Amazon, they believe that the dead return as flowers rather than butterflies.


References/Notes:
1.^ Miller, Carlos (2005). "History: Indigenous people wouldn't let 'Day of the Dead' die". Day of the Dead — Día De Los Muertos (The Arizona Republic). http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dead/history/ . Retrieved 2007-11-28.
2.^ a b c d Salvador, R. J. (2003). John D. Morgan and Pittu Laungani. ed. Death and Bereavement Around the World: Death and Bereavement in the Americas. Death, Value and Meaning Series, Vol. II. Amityville, New York: Baywood Publishing Company. pp. 75–76 Day Of The Dead?. ISBN 0895032325. http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rjsalvad/scmfaq/muertos.html . Retrieved 2007-11-27.
3.^ a b Palfrey, Dale Hoyt (1995). "The Day of the Dead". Día de los Muertos Index. Access Mexico Connect. http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/muertos.html . Retrieved 2007-11-28.
4.^ Wise, Danno. "Port Isabel's Day of the Dead Celebration". Texas Travel. About.com. http://gotexas.about.com/od/festivals/a/Dayofdead.htm . Retrieved 2007-11-28.
5.^ Hedding, Judy. "Day of the Dead". Phoenix. About.com. http://phoenix.about.com/od/events/a/dayofthedead.htm . Retrieved 2007-11-28.
6.^ White, Erin (2006-11-05). "All Souls Procession". Arizona Daily Star. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-153859362.html . Retrieved 2007-11-28.
7.^ Making a night of Day of the Dead Los Angeles Times October 18, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
8.^ http://www.dayofthedeadsf.org/
9.^ http://articles.sfgate.com/2000-10-27/news/17664863_1_el-corazon-muertos-altar
10.^ "Photos of Missoula, Montana Day of the Dead parade". Saroff.com. 2006-11-02. http://www.saroff.com/shows/day_of_the_dead_parade/index.php . Retrieved 2009-08-13.
11.^ Betsy Burlingame, Joshua Wood. "Visit to cemetery in Guatemala". Expatexchange.com. http://www.expatexchange.com/lib.cfm?networkID=159&articleID=1793 . Retrieved 2009-08-13.
12.^ Guidi, Ruxandra (2007-11-09). "Las Natitas". BBC. http://www.theworld.org/?q=node/13922&answer=true .
13.^ Smith, Fiona (2005-11-08). "Bolivians Honor Skull-Toting Tradition". Associated Press. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/bolivia/skulls.htm . Retrieved 2007-12-30.
14.^ "All Saints day in Bolivia - "The skull festival"". Bolivia Line (November 2005). http://www.bolivialine.com/bolivia/newsletter/Newsletter200511.htm . Retrieved 2007-12-20.
15.^ All Saints Day celebrations in Italy[dead link]
16.^ Polish observance. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
17.^ Slovakia observance. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
18.^ Hungary observance. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
19.^ Lithuanian observance. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
20.^ Croatian observance. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
21.^ Slovenian observance. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
22.^ Romanian observance. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
23.^ See All Saints Day, All Souls Day.
24.^ Day of the Dead in Prague.
25.^ "One of the many Filipino traditions often practiced is celebrating All Saints'/Souls' Day or Day of the Dead." Accessed Nov. 26, 2007.
26.^ "Day of the Dead in Wellington, New Zealand". Scoop.co.nz. 2007-10-27. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0710/S00273.htm . Retrieved 2009-08-13.
27.^ Nepali holiday honoring the dead. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
28.^ African ancestor ritual; Importance in many traditional religions throughout all of Africa serve as communications with ancestors


Further reading:
Brandes, Stanley (2006-12-15). Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead. Blackwell Publishing. p. 232. ISBN 1405152478. http://books.google.com/books?d=rlyTyVbhBYUC&printsec=frontcover&hl=fr. Retrieved 2006-05-14.

"The Day of the Dead, Halloween, and the Quest for Mexican National Identity". Journal of American Folklore 442 (1998) : 359-80.

"Sugar, Colonialism, and Death: On the Origins of Mexico's Day of the Dead". Comparative Studies in Sociology and History 39.2 (1997): 270-299.

"Iconogaphy in Mexico's Day of the Dead". Ethnohistory 45.2(1998):181-218.

Carmichael, Elizabeth; Sayer, Chloe. The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico. Great Britain: The Bath Press, 1991.

Conklin, Paul. "Death Takes A Holiday". U.S. Catholic 66 (2001) : 38-41.

Garcia-Rivera, Alex. "Death Takes a Holiday". U.S. Catholic 62 (1997) : 50.

Haley, Shawn D.; Fukuda, Curt. Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca. Berhahn Books, 2004.

Lomnitz, Claudio. Death and the Idea of Mexico. Zone Books, 2005.

Roy, Ann. "A Crack Between the Worlds". Commonwealth 122 (1995) : 13-16.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ready...Set...Write!


Today begins National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNoWriMo. I've attempted this event every year since 2006 (finishing it only once). The goal: to write a 50k novel in 30 days. Crazy, isn't it? But it's loads of fun. I mean, thousands of writers just like you are pounding away for 30 days, trying their damnedest to write a novel. It's inspiring. Many NaNoWriMo novels have even gotten published, including my own title Promises to Keep. This year I'm working on a new Sarah Vargas story. Now that her life is (sort of) back on track, I'm interested to see what will happen next. Although, I have to warn you, I might change my mind. It all depends on what my muse has in store for me today. Will it be Sarah, or maybe that T.D. novel that's been on the back burner for eternity (at least that's how it feels). Today will be the day that I start something new, and I'm hoping that once it's finished you'll enjoy it.

You can track my progress on my NaNo page: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/141463

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