Thursday, November 23, 2017

ARCHIVE: A Slightly Whimsical Look at My Pilgrim Ancestors

Posted by: Veronica Scott
From the ARCHIVES: Note: I originally published this post in November 2011 as a guest on my friend Shawna Thomas's blog, but I thought perhaps the audience at Here Be Magic might enjoy the tale:

As one of the themes of Thanksgiving here in  the United States, we have the quintessential romance story, with a chaste, inspirational love triangle, all centering around the folks who arrived on these shores on the Mayflower in 1620. Poor orphaned Priscilla Mullins (my ancestress, thank you but we’ll get to that in a minute), sought after by gruff old Captain Miles Standish, a well-to-do recent widower. Miles is not a dab hand at coming up with woman-attracting prose so he enlists his friend John Alden, he of the silver tongue. Ah but guess who John loves? The young Mr. John Alden,  my other ancestor, dutifully went and began reciting the beautiful speech he’d written to Priscilla, ostensibly for his friend Miles. (My guess is John poured his own heart out in the speech and that’s what made it so compelling).

Mistress Mullins stopped him and said in her best Pilgrim demure fashion, “Prithee, John, speak for yourself.”  Really, what self respecting heroine of a modern day romance novel wouldn’t have done the same? And John didn’t have to be asked twice apparently. HEA ensued, complete with ten – maybe eleven – children.

Everyone knows the story, right?  

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’ve always taken a special interest in the whole Miles Standish – John Alden- Priscilla Mullins love story because (a) I like romance and love stories and (b) I’m descended from them.  (My mother and her entire side of the family were die hard genealogists before it was popular – don’t ask!)  The relationship was a special point of pride for me as a child. I even got to play Priscilla in the third grade Thanksgiving pageant, with a robin's egg blue bonnet that was amazing in its historical inaccuracy.  I remember nothing else of the costume so the dress was probably a lot more authentically Pilgrimlike and boring. But that hat! I can still see it in my mind's eye some unspecified number of years later.

Clarence Somebody played my John Alden but I had a crush on Henry S., who played Miles. Clearly I wanted to rewrite history in our little school pageant and end up holding hands with Henry S, as well as wearing that to-die-for-bonnet. Unfortunately my third grade teacher was a hard liner and we went with the original, historically accurate plot. Clarence and I presided over the feast (chocolate milk and cookies) as the happily "married" couple, while the rakish Henry was off teasing Debbie B, my playground rival. 

Priscilla didn’t have these problems! She appears to have been a woman of unusual gumption for the 1600’s and probably would have ended up with Henry, were she in my sneakers, if she'd wanted him.

OK, flash forward to me in adulthood. I now know there are approximately 1,000,000 descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Alden living today. (One of their daughters married one of Captain Standish’s sons – sequel  material there!) There are actually 10,000,000 living descendants of the entire Mayflower passenger list.  So you and you and you may be just as descended from them as I am.  I clearly wasn’t as cool and unique as I thought in third grade. In fact, I recently found out one of my co-workers and I are cousins, about thirteen times removed.

The idea of taking a day to stop and give thanks for what we have remains a happy thing, even 380+ years later, in my case, or whenever Thanksgiving or its equivalent holiday falls on the calendar in your part of the world! Best wishes to you and yours in November!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Feast on These Awesome Paranormal Shows With Your Turkey

Posted by: Maureen
By Maureen L. Bonatch

The weather is getting colder and many people are settling in for a little winter hibernation indoors. It’s the time of year when I pull out my favorite Christmas movies and watch A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Scrooged and other holiday classics. But sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little more paranormal and fantasy while I’m sinking into a ‘carb coma’ or an all the ‘turkey fixings overload’

As the holidays roll in with a touch of the overwhelm, sometimes it’s nice to escape from the onslaught of holiday movies, holiday commercials and holidayeverything into a world of paranormal and fantasy.

One thing many people enjoy almost as much as binging on holiday treats is binging on their favorite television show. I confess—I don’t usually spend too much time watching television. So when my friends discuss their latest favorite television show I’m often clueless. I’m usually more engrossed in writing or reading. Or I drag out my laptop and multi-task while the hubs watches television. 

But there are a few shows I make an extra effort to make time for. (I also discuss a few of these here.)

A Few of My Favorite Paranormal & Fantasy Shows Include 

  • Supernatural- Because who doesn’t love Sam & Dean?
  • Outcast- This show reminds me of my book, Destiny Calling
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead- This takes a special (slightly warped) sense of humor like mine
  • Stranger Things- Oh, to revisit the 1980’s!

If You Want To Go Old School Consider 

  • Charmed- My all-time favorite! It inspired my story, That Magic Moment
  • The X-Files- Love this! I believe! J
  • Millennium-We all braced for all the extraordinary the millennium might bring
  • Ghost Whisperer- Ghosts and a beautiful love story- I still miss this show
  • Medium –I found this to be such a unique concept for it’s time

Love Feasting Your Eyes on Your Favorite Show? You're Not Alone

It seems many people binge all year long—on television. Since Outcast, one of my favorite shows, is delayed from returning until
next summer, I reached out on a Facebook post to discover some other favorite shows.  

Here are a few recommendations on my To-Be-Watched List:
  • Outlander “Time-travel”
  • Ozark -I did watch this show and enjoyed it
  • The Deuce- a drama of New York City in the 1970’s and 1980’s
  • Orville “Tongue in cheek and humorous.”
  • Designated Survivor “Fantasy”
  • Blindspot- A crime drama television series
  • Longmire- American modern western crime drama

Is Your Favorite Show on the List? Or Can You Add to it? 

Not in the mood for television? Or you don't want to wait any longer for Outcast? Escape with my book, Destiny Calling. 

When the woman who raised Hope is murdered by something not human, Hope loses the only family she knows and discovers one she might wish she never met. With a touch that can make the desperate hopeful, Hope is the answer. 

The only question is if she can deal with sibling rivalry, accept that entities feeding off despair exist, and determine if Griffith is the man of her dreams, or not at all what he seems.  

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Monday, November 20, 2017

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
New Releases:
Shattered Earth (Shamans and Shifters Book 3) from Jenny Schwartz.
The scum of the galaxy are using Earth as a nuclear winter death camp. It outrages pirate captain Kohia Jekyll’s sense of justice. No one deserves to die agonizingly of radiation poisoning, especially not on the planet humanity had to evacuate seven generations ago. So Kohia intends to close the prison camp down.

She didn’t count on an infuriating shaman healer hitching a ride aboard her starship.

Nairo Bloodstone isn’t going to Earth to be a hero. He learned the hard way that when you’re a healer, doing your best for people is never enough. One miracle leads them to demand another and another. Heroes die exhausted and alone, and the galaxy continues with billions of people still clamoring for a miracle-worker to save them. 

No, Nairo isn't going to Earth to be a hero. He intends to change what it means to be human.


Maid of Ice by Shona Husk
Stalkers and death threats . . .
For Finlay Ryder, danger means playing a racecar driver on a daytime soap. That is, until he’s forced to reckon with his true identity as an Albah, a magical ancient race, by one of his own kind. Someone wants him dead. And worse, an ancient vampire is on the prowl, drawing blood left and right. Now, Finlay has no choice but to hunt enemies with unspeakable powers—or risk being hunted himself . . .

. . . and that’s just the first date
Ice skater Alina Nyx is using her broken wrist as an excuse for a career change. And when she falls for handsome Finlay, Albah drama feels like her new full-time job. Learning about magic and vampires is exciting, until her life is threatened. Now, as she begins to uncover her own mysterious powers, she must combine forces with Finlay to eradicate their foes for good, or all Albah will suffer . . .

Other News:
The new Book+Main Bites site for romance readers went live last week. The idea is for readers to sample 'bites' or snippets from authors and decide whether to buy the books. There were a few hiccups on the authors' side during rollout (and some NSFW photos from a few authors O_o) but revisions are underway and the site is very browsable. If you decide to try it out - it's FREE for readers - several HBM authors are there, so look for us to Follow: Ruth A. Casie, PG Forte, Linda Mooney and Veronica Scott. 

Bring It Back(list) Feature:
Veronica Scott shared TRAPPED ON TALONQUE, with an alien sleeping beauty...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bring It Back(list) TRAPPED ON TALONQUE Alien Sleep Beauty

Posted by: Veronica Scott
I just thought it'd be fun to talk about this one from my backlist. Part of the story is a scifi take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale...mixed with a lot of scifi action! Plus I love the cover - it's so hard to find stock photos that resemble the heroes and heroines, much less an alien beauty with lavender hair in braids - but for this cover Fiona Jayde managed it!

The story:
Will an alien sleeping beauty awaken to save him, or destroy everyone around her?
When a Sectors Special Forces soldier and his team crash land on an alien planet, they’re taken captive and given a challenge–win at the violent ball game of sapiche and live. Lose, and they die, sending a mysterious, alien beauty to an even uglier fate. To survive, these soldiers must win the game and find a way to free the dangerous prisoner from her locked chamber.
Nate Reilly and his team are in deep trouble. Prisoners on a backward alien planet, they’re brought before an alien ‘goddess’, sleeping in her high tech seclusion. Nate is astonished when she awakes and establishes a psychic link with him. But her news is not good–he and his men must win a brutal challenge set by their captors, or they will die. She’ll give her aid, but in the end their courage and strength must win the contest.
Bithia sleeps in her chamber, as she has for thousands of years, since her own people unaccountably left her there. Viewed as a goddess by her captors, she must hide her ancient secrets to survive. But only the bravest of men may free her. Can she use her psychic powers to keep Nate and his men alive long enough to help her escape, or will her only hope of freedom die with them?
The excerpt:
He stood on the edge of a high-tech chamber out of place on a primitive world such as this one. Ringing the room were strange displays, blinking lights, roving green beams, unknown instruments. The sophistication of the technology was well beyond anything the Sectors had achieved, let alone the dwellers of this planet. Nate spared only a second to glance at these wonders. His attention was caught and held by what occupied the center of a large alcove directly across the room.
The cubicle was lined in shiny metallic material and from the floor rose a graceful pedestal of the same material, topped with a thin platform at waist level. Neatly arranged on a layer of dark purple padding lay a woman, apparently asleep. She certainly wasn’t from this planet, nor any world known to Nate. This mysterious female had ivory skin with the palest of lavender undertones in her cheeks.
“I’ll be moon-damned.” Thom’s attention was riveted on the sleeper as well. “An Ancient Observer?”
“Can’t be—no one’s ever found actual remains,” Haranda said from the other side. “Although this room certainly suggests a high level of technology, it’s not AO. Another sophisticated, highly advanced forerunner civilization. The galaxy is a big place after all.” Roused from his state of funk, he studied the walls, apparently more interested in the devices and displays than in the woman. “I minored in AO studies at the Academy.”
“I don’t think she’s a well-preserved corpse.” Nate couldn’t take his gaze from her, not even to watch what their captors were doing now. He took himself sharply to task for the lapse. What if we’ve been brought here as a sacrifice? He had to be mentally prepared to fight, not gawk at a pretty girl. But the next moment he found himself studying her again, unable to keep himself from indulging in another view.
The woman was tall, probably his equal in height, definitely humanoid. She lay pillowed on her own hair, a thick, sweeping fall of glorious blue mixed with amethyst purple, set here and there with twinkling jewels. From his location across the room, he couldn’t see whether she was breathing, yet he had a definite sense of a living presence.
Her clothing was a simple, silvery white and lavender sheath, like finely woven metallic thread had been spun to make the dress. Thin jeweled straps held the garment at her shoulders. The finely pleated fabric clung to her curves sensuously. She lay on her back, arms stretched out a little on each side, her graceful, six-fingered hands spread open on the cushion. She wore no jewelry save for an elaborate bracelet on her left wrist, studded with colorful stones whose facets caught and amplified the lights in the main room.

Another little snippet:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Conference fun!

Posted by: Shona Husk

Last weekend I went to Genrecon in Brisbane for the first time. As the name suggests it’s a conference for genre writers (horror, sci fi, romance, crime and fantasy). It has a very different feel to RWAustralia, or either of the reader conventions I’ve been to. Many of the sessions were discussion panels about various issues (what writers get wrong, luck vs hard work) but I did go to a few craft sessions.

Even though I’ve been published for 7 years I think it’s so important to keep learning, but to also learn from other genres as good writing is good writing.

There was also an academic stream and I caught a session on crime noir (which I find fascinating even thought I don’t think I could write it).

I would definitely go again, though I’ll have to wait 2 years as it’s not a yearly conference :( 

If you are in Australia I do recommend it. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why Mistletoe is for lovers...

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR
Mistletoe berries are white when ripe
Image from
’Tis November, and the harvest is in, the leaves are gone from the trees, and the first snows are falling. But in the midst of the short, cold days, one plant is just now ripening…  

But you'll have to look UP to find it!

Mistletoe is unusual in the plant world because it doesn’t grow in the earth at all. Instead, it’s a semi-parasite that lives only in the branches of mature trees (and if you've ever gone hunting for it, you'll know it's usually very high up...). This strange plant not only remains green throughout the winter, but usually produces its ghostly white berries between October and DecemberThis makes November the perfect time to go for a walk in the woods and locate a mistletoe plant for holiday harvesting! 

There are 1,300 species of mistletoe worldwide, with three dozen native to the United States. The most common of them eventually develops into a woven mass of green stems that can reach five feet across and weigh up to 50 pounds! The tangled plants are sometimes referred to as witches’ brooms.

Although today we think of mistletoe as a Christmas decoration, mistletoe has a much longer history than Christmas itself.

The ancient Celts believed mistletoe to be a gift from the gods, associated with good fortune and great blessings. The Romans recorded that the Celts would harvest mistletoe from a tree after the winter solstice. A druid – a Celtic priest – used a golden sickle to cut the plant. Due to its sacred nature, the mistletoe must never come in contact with the ground and so a white cloth was held beneath the tree to catch it. Two white bulls were then sacrificed to honor the god who provided the mistletoe and to ask that the plant’s potency be increased.

Snow-covered mistletoe growing high in a birch tree.
Image from
The druids were said to be skilled in both herbs and magic, and the mistletoe was one of the most powerful plants in their arsenal. A symbol of immortality, mistletoe was believed to have protective powers against evil spirits and the ability to heal diseases. Although mistletoe is a poisonous plant itself, in skilled hands it was considered to be an antidote to all other poisons. It was also used to promote fertility in both animal and human – and occasionally even used in aphrodisiac potions. 

In fact, the mistletoe was so sacred that if enemies met in a forest and a mistletoe plant was spotted overhead, an automatic truce was declared until the following day. From this grew the practice of hanging mistletoe over the door, or suspending it from the ceiling as a symbol of peace and good will.

The Death of Baldr, by W.G. Collingwood. Note the spear of mistletoe!
Public Domain 
The Norse myth of Baldr added to the mistletoe tradition. The goddess, Frigga, was Baldr’s mother, and exacted a promise from every element, plant and animal, both on the earth and under the earth, not to harm Baldr. She forgot the mistletoe, which grows neither in the ground or on it. The other gods made a game of throwing things at the good-natured Baldr and laughing as they bounced off him harmlessly. Loki, prankster and god of evil, tricked the blind god, Hod, into throwing a spear made of mistletoe at Baldr, which killed him. 

Fortunately, Balder is eventually brought back to life. His mother is so overcome with joy that she reverses the reputation of the offensive mistletoe, declaring that those who passed beneath a mistletoe plant should have a token kiss and be kept safe from harm.

Image from
Centuries later, both Celtic and Viking traditions were condemned by early Christianity as pagan, and mistletoe was forbidden to be displayed within sight of the church. However, that didn’t stop people from hanging mistletoe in their homes and barns or from wearing sprigs of it to ward off disease and evil. Mistletoe became known as All-heal, and is still used in homeopathic medicine. In fact, it continues to be studied today as a possible treatment for cancer.

The plant’s original status as a symbol of peace and love, however, wasn’t revived until Victorian times. With it came the practice of kissing under the mistletoe. Interestingly, the practice began among the servant class and worked its way up until everyone was doing it! Mistletoe could be hung over a doorway or from the ceiling as a sprig or a bouquet, or in England it was often part of an elaborate "kissing bough". This was made by wrapping greenery, nuts, apples and ribbons around a large wire frame sphere and tying a large cluster of mistletoe below it (remember they had VERY high ceilings to accommodate such elaborate ornaments). 

The kisses could be stolen if someone happened to wander under mistletoe, and it considered bad luck to refuse a kiss. Being Victorian times, it was almost always the men initiating the kisses of course... In some circles it was said that couples who shared a kiss beneath this evergreen plant would have a happy marriage. 

In the United States, the tradition was recorded in 1820 by Washington Irving (author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). He wrote, "The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas; and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked, the privilege ceases."­ 

One kiss, one berry. It's easy to see why young men often competed to hunt down the BIGGEST bunch of mistletoe for the party!



Bringing ancient faery legends into modern-day America...

Watch for STORM CROSSED, releasing January 9th!
Available now for pre-order in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.

See all of Dani Harper's books on her Amazon Author Page -

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

When Book ≠ > Movie

Posted by: PG Forte

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the movie is never as good as the book that inspired it.

Okay, so we know that’s not always the case, but it happens often enough that it can seem like incontrovertible fact. Which is why watching the movie version of a book you love is such a risky proposition. When it works, it's magic. But too often it just goes horribly wrong. Like 2007’s abysmal attempt at Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. Sooo disappointing.

This subject has been on my mind for the past few weeks, ever since I read the book version of Practical Magic for the first time. Now, this is a movie that I’ve loved for years, and I always assumed that I’d at least like the book. Surprisingly, however, I didn’t. For a lot of reasons, not least of all because it was nothing like the movie. In fact, the two are so different that I’m still trying to figure out how the one led to the other.

Seriously. It was almost as jarring as trying to reconcile Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame with Victor Hugo's novel. I remember watching it with my kids for the first time wondering, "how in the world are they going to work this one out?" To be honest, I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

Interestingly, right before I read Practical Magic, I also read its recently released prequel—The Rules of Magic—which I enjoyed a lot more. But, then again, I think that's because it struck me as being more true to the movie than the original book. Go figure.

And it's not just because the movie isn't like the book that I feel this way. I can think of several cases where I liked both the book and the movie even though they were very different from one another —Field of Dreams (based on the novel Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella) and Under the Tuscan Sun (based on Frances Mayes book of the same title) are two that come to mind. 

But up until now, my most notable movie > book moment was 1984’s The Natural starring Robert Redford. The movie was charming. The book...not so  much. It was dark and dismal and its characters were far more flawed than they were portrayed in the movie. I can't remember now whether anyone in the book ever got a happily ever after, but I'm pretty sure they didn't deserve one.

So, what about you? What book/movie combos have left you disappointed? 
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