Friday, July 4, 2014

Something Different



Now for something a bit different…

Today is the United States of America's Anniversary of its Declaration of Independence, or in other words, its Birthday. Every nation has a birthday; some have several. Every country celebrates in its own way. America is a bit different. We're so diverse; Americans celebrate Independence Day in hundreds of ways. I'd like to share what Independence Day celebrations have been like for me.

When I was growing up, near the coast of North Carolina, July meant hot, hot and humid, so stepping outside resembled being placed in a 500 degree oven wrapped in a wet wool blanket. Our town was little, less than a thousand people in and around it, named for the Scottish village its founders had left in search of free land and the 'American Dream'. It was 'typical small town America', the ones rarely seen today with growth and development and 'progress'. Independence Day meant a parade through downtown Main Street and then afternoon picnics, games and a carnival at the lake, right off the main highway and railroad which had placed our town on the map and would elevate us to 'city' status. There would be a concert and then with full dark, fireworks.

One Independence Day, the year the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, Georgia, our neighboring state and about 6 hours away, the Olympic Torch came through our town at night, on that highway and carried by a runner with an artificial leg. I've never forgotten the sight of him, in red, white and blue sweats, draped in an American flag and surrounded by a police escort and other runners. He was crying, endless tears streaming down his face, because, he'd later say in an interview, his leg hurt so badly, the heat had sapped him, and yet the honor of what he did outweighed everything else.
He was the definition of 'Independence' to me.

My family was, for the most part, farmers. Grandpa owned a thousand acre tobacco farm in addition to the thousand acres of corn, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. July meant the beginning of harvest, particularly hundreds of ears of corn. My earliest July 4th memories are helping pull and shuck the corn, to get it ready to be blanched and then canned or frozen, and the smell of raw kernels. The humid heat made the fine hairs of the corn stick to your arms, legs, face. Every once and a while a shuck would reveal a worm or a bug and some lesser girl would scream and hop up and down (okay, so I could recognize which ears of corn might have a worm, and sort of steered them toward the girly girls. I was a prankster in my youth).

By mid morning, we needed to be ready for the parade. My great grandfather began the first volunteer fire department in our town, the second one in the state; ever since the men (and now women) of my family have served in this department. Every Independence Day my father or uncle drove the fire truck in the parade and the youngest members of the family sat on the top or the back and threw candy to the parade watching. The only year I didn't ride in or on a fire truck was the year I was heavily pregnant with my first child and in the first stages of toxemia. That year I had to sit in my mom's AC car and only left to wave at the trucks and a few floats of friends—and a walking 'Uncle Sam', who grabbed me and danced a waltz along main street with me. 'Uncle Sam' was female and we danced in my own personal freedom from being confined to bed and her as the first woman in out town's history to portray an American symbol once believed only a male could honor.

Independence Day.

When I moved to my beloved mountains, newly divorced and a single mom, I wondered what this little town did to celebrate. It turns out, they have the park picnics and games and of course, the fireworks. But the biggest parade here is saved for Labor Day, to cap the huge Apple Festival. So for Independence Day here, every war America has ever fought is represented by a solider or the direct descendent of a soldier in full uniform in a march down Main Street. No one sits: every stands, salutes and cheers. We honor our vets in this town, we salute our military. On this day, it doesn’t matter what 'right' or 'wrong' is, which political party you are; it matters that these men and women fight to maintain the whole idea America originally decided to rebel for against the crown: Freedom.

There was the Independence Day only 2 weeks after we lost our son where I remember holding the star shaped firework earrings I only wear on Independence Day and sobbing because I wanted so desperately for my sweet baby to try to grab these earrings and he never would. There was the Independence Day I couldn't get out of bed from chemo treatments and my daughter melted ice cream for me to try to drink it. And the Independence Day my Dad came home from the hospital after his last heart attack and the entire fire department escorted him and stayed to shuck the corn.
Independence Day comes in so many forms.

We always, in my home town and now in my HOME town, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, ate my Mom's famous potato salad, drank sweet tea (yes, I know it's not *real* tea, according to my UK friends) and banana pudding. When I came HOME to my mountains, we added Independence Sundae Day with its 4 flavors of ice cream and all toppings you could possibly imagine after one ate 'real' food. There's no better way to declare Independence than to make your own banana split or hot fudge oreo topped treat then groan for an hour because you ate too much. And then there's the infamous Water Gun Fight, with most of the neighborhood participating in who can get who armed with water balloons, water pistols, a garden hose, buckets, whatever will soak the opposite team. It usually becomes 'where can Mom (me) hide' because she's laughing too hard to aim and is a perfect target.

This Independence Day, I will grill something and try to make my Mom's potato salad, since she no longer can. I'll eat as much ice cream as I can stand and I'll watch my next generation take over the Water Gun Fight. And I'll thank God for Independence, in whatever form it takes for the person who needs it most.

The United States isn't perfect in any way, shape or form. It's past, present and no doubt future are riddled with atrocious decisions, with inhumane actions, with injustice and corrupt leaders. It also has produced incredible people of talent, intelligence and strength. It had moments of madness and unbelievable beauty. It could be said, with deep accuracy, this country is the best representation of the human race on this planet. It's flawed, it's got amazing potential, and it survives, in spite of its problems and battles.

Happy Independence Day, America.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wedding Belle Blues has RELEASED!

Yes, I have been slow to post this. But... WEDDING BELLE BLUES has RELEASED!



It's available HERE:

http://www.breathlesspress.com/index.php?main_page=product_free_shipping_info&cPath=15&products_id=582&zenid=1dda9d10ce8fa72930ff96631eacbf8e

Here:

 https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-weddingbelleblues-1546867-177.html?referrer=5148b13c78ae0

Here:

http://www.bookstrand.com/wedding-belle-blues

Or Here:

http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Belle-Blues-Mia-Epsilon-ebook/dp/B00L5K10LC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403884476&sr=1-1&keywords=mia+epsilon

Here's some of the things being said:

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously awesometastic book June 22, 2014
By ISLover
I thouroughly enjoyed this book. I found it witty, fun, and downright entertaining. This was a well written book that pulls you in from the first page and keeps you riveted til the end. 
 
 
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Quick, Summer Read June 25, 2014
By Nicole
Anna's engaged, which is great news to everyone except her best friend Robin, who has been pining for her for years. How will his attempts to sabotage effect his and Anna's friendship?

This was a quick read for me, but it was a fun one too. It reminded me of how horrible things could go in wedding planning. Oddly enough, right now I am helping plan a small destination wedding for my sister, so this book did hit home a bit. Luckily, my sister's future mother-in-law is nowhere near as crazy and domineering as Doug's mother is.

Mia Epsilon really did a great job with this novel. It was funny, quirky, and pulled at your heartstrings. There was plenty of romance, but the characters didn't just float through the story. I thought that the backstory of Anna and Robin was particularly great. The thought of a friend so great that they not only stayed with you all through college but actually got a teaching job at the same school, in the same hall as you? I wish Epsilon were writing my life story.

While it was a great book, I did have two small issues with Wedding Belle Blues. The first is that while the circumstances of Anna and Robin's meeting put a smile on my face, it's a bit hard to believe. The other problem I had is that the book was entirely too short. I would have loved it more if there were more to the story, more drama leading up to a bigger climax (though Epsilon definitely nailed the climax).

This was a great book, it really was. I enjoyed reading it and simply wished there had been more to read. I recommend this to anyone who likes "chick lit" or anyone looking for a quick summer read. I am excited to see what else Mia Epsilon has to offer, because I definitely enjoyed this one. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book in order for me to provide you, my lovely readers, with my 100% honest views and opinions. 
 
 
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!! 23 Jun 2014
By Heidi
Verified Purchase
This book is a must for any true romantic at heart, I couldn't put it down, and the characters all pulled me into the story as if i was there with them! Got to love Robin, wasn't what i expected when i started reading. Can't wait for the next book from this talented Author 
 
So, if you have some time, visit with Anna and Robin and discover what 'Wedding Belle Blues' means :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

GUEST AUTHOR: BRANTWIJN SERRAH




My Top 10 Favorite Vampires

There are good vampires, and there are bad vampires. And we can disagree day in and day out over which vampires fall under which category, but today, I'm going to share with you my personal top 10 favorites.
I chose some of these vamps because of their power or presence...some I chose because I find them incredibly hot. Feel free to agree or disagree with any vamp on this list. Fill up the comments with your discussion! If there's a vamp here you've never heard of... look them up and then come back to tell us what you think!

10. Father Abel Nightroad, Trinity Blood
I guess technically he's not a vampire, but a 'crusnik', a vampire that vampires fear. Still, I love him in all his fang-y goodness. He's an adorable, awkward, somewhat bumbling, sweet friendly priest by day...but piss him off and he turns into a black-winged, scythe-wielding killing machine. He's got that long white hair we anime fangirls are always squee-ing over, and honestly, he's one of the few true-hearted, benevolent 'hero' vampires I can really believe in and root for. Perhaps it's the setting (Trinity Blood is an absolutely beautiful anime, and if you haven't watched it, you should), but in his context, Abel is a wonderfully good-hearted vampire. I don't really like the 'white hat' vamps but this guy's truly worth rooting for.


9. Drusilla, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Who could possibly not love this complete and utter lunatic? She says the most insane, random things. And yet, at the same time, so very poetic. Drusilla doesn't have any real 'vampire' qualities that impress me more than other vamps, but she is nothing if not totally entertaining. She loses a lot of her speciality after her main season on Buffy, honestly, but a few flashback scenes later on still pack that zany "King of Cups" nuttiness.  She does get legitimately scary for a little while in Angel, but I think the best Drusilla horror scene is her slow, hypnotic, and wicked murder of Kendra the Vampire Slayer.

8. Akasha, Queen of the Damned
This gal! It breaks my heart that Aaliyah was killed so shortly after this movie came out because I watched it once, and I was hooked on her. I realize lots of people didn't like the film version, but I adored the sensual nature of it, especially in Akasha. This vamp is not just sexy, she's sexual, and beautiful, and deadly, and maniacal. If you've read The Vampire Chronicles you find out so much more about how this creature came to be, and it is really a terrific, tangled-up story. I'm always going to think of her as this gorgeous creature, though, and damn if I wouldn't follow her into eternity.
7. David, The Lost Boys
Keifer Sutherland's character finds his way to this list mostly because I think The Lost Boys was something of my first 'real' vampire experience. By that I mean, this was the first time I really recognized vampires as horror-movie bad guys, and understood so much of their allure was in their dangerous nature. David cemented for me how important it is for a vampire to have a really scary edge, and he might be the reason I so rarely like the 'good boys' of the vamp world. David will always be my picture of a 'core' vampire: eerily beautiful, immortal, scary, deadly, and impossible to reform. As a side note: One of the only times I've seen a mullet not look totally stupid.

6. Eric Northman, True Blood
Must have. Gimme Gimme.
I've specifically chosen Eric's character from the HBO show True Blood, not from The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. The reason for this is while there's not exactly anything wrong with the book version, the show version has that wicked edge I like. And Alexander Skarsgård plays him deadly to the hilt. He's hot, vicious, passionate...just like I like 'em!
Note: Some may think Eric's Viking heritage was inspiration for the character of Sölva in Lotus Petals, who is also a Viking. Actually, I had conceived of Sölva many years before being introduced to True Blood. Frankly, if I'd met Eric first, I might not have made my ultimate villain share a heritage with him!

#5. Lestat, The Vampire Chronicles
I honestly don't like either of the two film versions of Lestat, but I love him in The Vampire Chronicles book series. Contrary to expectations, though, I don't find him romantic at all...I simply like his stories and adventures, and his character in general. The one thing about his stories that game me something of a twinge was the way The Vampire Lestat tried to undo all of Lestat's cruelties from The Interview with a Vampire. I got over it fairly quickly and enjoyed him again as a sort of anti-hero, I just didn't appreciate the way Anne Rice tried to sweep away his past deeds as all being "for a secret good".
4. Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Another anti-hero I can't help but love, Spike was always the better blood-sucking love interest from Buffy. He had a better attitude than Angel, better wardrobe, and when it came to being in love with the girl, he fought to find a way to get his soul back. He was never a goody-two-shoes or a true-blue hero, but one of the most appreciable example of an anti-hero in the vampire world.

3. D, Vampire Hunter D
Another classic anime vamp from my past, D holds a sentimental place in my heart. My husband introduced me to D when we were kids, and it was terrific.
D is a half-vampire, or a dhampir. Here is another case of a vampire archetype I don't normally like—the half-human, half-vampire—but D gets away with it thanks to a character I just can't help but like. He's the strong, silent type, and brushes off human contact at first blush. When the chips are down, he comes through for those who need him—while still maintaining that strong, silent demeanor.

2. Dracula
 He will always be the quintessential, perfect vampire to me, and in my mind he will always be Gary Oldman. There are a lot of neat, original ideas running around in vampire fiction, and I can appreciate them when they're clever and good, but when I really want to look to the heart of vampires, I look back to Vlad Dracul. If there's one vampire Rhiannon Donovan could ever truly respect, I think it would be him.

1.     
Meier Link, Vampire Hunter D
Meier is a romantic/love interest vampire who captivated me the first time I saw Vampire Hunter D, Bloodlust. I think one thing I love about Meier is that no one ever tries to pretend he isn't exactly what he is: a blood-drinking creature of the night. Meier is portrayed as the antagonist and I don't think there is ever any indication to say otherwise—even from he himself. He loves, yes...but he doesn't pretend he isn't a monster, and he doesn't intend to redeem himself or become a hero: all he wants is to leave the human world behind with his beloved and take her to the eternal world of night, where they can be together undisturbed. Beyond the love story that I appreciate, Meier is a pretty certifiable badass: he walks out into the sun for his lady love, faces down a pair of famous vampire hunters, and takes on the very son of Dracula.  I also want to point out he's beautiful, but in this case I'm referring to the art style of him: the detail and contrasts in his design appeal to me. I honestly find him incredibly beautiful character.



Book cover and blurb
Lotus Petals: The Books of Blood and Fire, Book 1
Rhiannon Donovan, daughter to the vampire Queen, would rather die than be made a bride to a demon Lord. Aijyn, courtesan to the undead Daimyo of Kansai, can think of nothing more horrifying than his promise of eternal life.  In the halls of the Blood Lotus Temple, the two women struggle against the chains of their fate, and find a solace in each other that could mean freedom for them both... or might cost each of them their lives.




Social and buy links
Buy link on Breathless Press: http://tinyurl.com/lm5qk7d
Brantwijn Serrah's page on Breathless Press: http://tinyurl.com/p4bl55r
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Author bio
When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours watching Futurama, Claymore or Buffy the Vampire Slayer while she writes or draws.
In addition to her novels, Brantwijn has had several stories published in anthologies by Breathless Press, including the 2013 Crimson Anthology and 2014 Ravaged Anthology.  She's also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm and the anthology Coming Together Through The Storm. She hopes to have several more tales to tell as time goes on.  She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.