Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt

March 1st - March 25th

Find great authors and books during this giveaway event, hosted by Night Owl Reviews! Read book blurbs and get entered to win awesome prizes!


1- $500 Amazon Gift Card
23 - $25 Amazon Gift Cards
43 eBooks (A Kindle copy of my new release, STORM WARNED, is one of them!)

EASY TO ENTER --- For this scavenger hunt you will be reading book blurbs and filling in a missing word(s) from a sentence in the blurb.

Winner Announcement Chat: March 30th at 6pm PT / 9pm ET in the Night Owl Review chat room . Can't be there? Don't worry, all winners will be notified by email as well.


Use the Rafflecopter below to enter or go to this link:
http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-March-2015

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Superstitions About Love --- and a Giveaway

February is the month of love, and people have attempted to foretell their future partners for centuries. I remember skipping rhymes and folded paper games as a kid, and Saturday afternoon sessions with Ouija boards as a teen! But there are many other methods of divination. I’ve collected a number of myths, folklore, traditions and superstitions to share with you! 

Apples and love

The apple has been associated with love for centuries. In ancient Greece, tossing an apple to a woman was a proposal of marriage – and catching it was equivalent to saying yes! Both guys and gals use the humble apple to tell the future in many European countries. One method is to twist the stem of an apple while reciting the alphabet. Whatever letter you’re on when the stem pops off is said to be the first letter of your true love’s name. 

You can also peel an apple, making sure to keep the peeling all in one long strip. Throw the peeling over your left shoulder onto the floor. Now go and look straight down at it – whatever letter the fallen peeling most resembles is believed to be the first letter of your true love’s name.

Tradition tells us that if you eat an apple at midnight while looking into a mirror, you’ll see the face of your future wife or husband. And if you need to decide between lovers, folklore says to name an apple seed for each one. Get the seeds wet and throw them at the ceiling. Whichever one sticks is the one you will be happiest with.

Four-leaf clovers 

These are lucky according to tradition, but did you know that they’re also associated with love? If someone finds a four-leaf clover, they’ll meet their future spouse on that day. Dreaming of a four-leaf clover implies a happy and prosperous marriage in your future. And in Ireland, if a woman eats a four-leaf clover while concentrating on the man of her affections, it’s said that he’ll eventually be hers!


Dreams ... and St. Andrew!

There are many methods to invoke nighttime visions of the one you will marry. Rubbing the headboard with lemon peel before bed or wearing your nightclothes inside out will cause you to dream of your future lover. Sleeping with a piece of wedding cake under your pillow will also do the trick – and so will a handful of daisies, a mirror, a silver coin, five bay leaves or a wedding ring from a happy marriage! 

Efforts to dream of marriage partners are said to be most effective on Valentine’s Day (of course!) but also on the eve of St. Andrew’s Day (November 30). In addition to his other jobs, St. Andrew is the patron saint of unmarried women! In old Austria, young women would drink wine and then recite the Andreasgebet (St. Andrew's prayer), while naked and kicking a straw bed. This was supposed to cause the future husband to appear in her dreams. (I wonder how much wine this requires?)

On this day in Poland, melted lead was poured into cold water – the shape that the metal took was said to provide clues to the true love’s occupation. In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, names of potential husbands were written on slips of paper and rolled into balls of dough on St. Andrew’s Day. The dough balls were then boiled like dumplings. Whichever piece of dough cooked first, floated to the surface -- with the name of the future spouse inside.

Birds and love


Birds have often been used to foretell future spouses too. Seeing a goldfinch on St. Valentine’s Day was said to mean you’d marry a wealthy man. A sparrow indicated a poor but happy marriage. The sight of a robin flying overhead means you’ll marry a sailor. A flock of doves?  A happy marriage is in store for you. If you hear the coo of a dove on the first day of Spring, the next person you meet of the opposite sex is said to be your ideal mate. 

And last but not least, if you want to know if you’ll marry within a year, stand outside a chicken coop at midnight and knock on the door. If you hear a rooster, the answer is yes. If you hear a hen, the answer is no!



Did you know that love is usually the most asked-about topic in tarot readings? 

As a giveaway, I found a set of oracle cards (like tarot) that are devoted to inviting more love into your life ---- This pretty deck is called "Whispers of Love", and the cards have been designed by artist Angela Hartfield.  Be sure and enter the Rafflecopter contest below!  Giveaway is open to residents of USA, Canada and the UK.

Wishing you a thoughtful and loving February!

Sincerely,
Dani Harper
www.daniharper.com 
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NEW YEAR'S FOLKLORE - The Tradition of the "FIRST FOOTER"

Once the clock strikes midnight and the new year arrives, did you know it's often considered bad luck for anyone to leave the house? (Not even to take out the garbage and the empties!) Instead, many people still wait for the “first footer” to arrive – the very first person to cross the threshold and enter your home in the New Year. Who that first footer is will influence your luck for the next twelve months! 

This belief in the importance of the "first footer" is found in a surprising number of cultures all over the globe! In Vietnam, the first person through the door influences the family's prosperity for the entire year. A person of great prestige, success or integrity is actively sought to be their first footer. (At New Year's, no one visits a home uninvited!) You'll find the same tradition in Greece, where the first footer is specially selected. Once he's crossed the threshold after midnight, the lady of the house gives treats and sometimes coins to all of the guests to ensure good fortune.

For maximum good luck in Ireland, a dark-haired man should be first through the door. If he’s handsome and single, so much the better. And it’s really lucky if he arrives on a horse! (I'd have story material for the whole year after an entrance like that!) 

As with many first footer traditions, the man should bring a few symbolic gifts such as:
      some silver coins
      a loaf of bread
      a lump of coal or peat for the fire
      a branch of evergreen
      a bag or bowl of salt 

Ideally, the man will make his way through the entire house and then leave by a different door. 

So who wouldn't make a good first footer? In some parts of the British Isles, it was considered very bad luck for your first visitor after midnight to be a woman! A fair-haired man wasn't always welcome either  too much like the Viking invaders of old. Other first footer rejects included people with red hair, doctors, ministers, thieves, grave-diggers, or anyone with crossed eyes or flat feet. Also on the "no" list was anyone whose eyebrows met in the middle of their forehead – it was thought to be a sign of being a werewolf! (The Macleod family from my Changeling series would find this rather insulting.) Any such visitors would be shooed away from the doorstep or made to wait until someone more desirable had entered the house first.  

In most countries with a first footer tradition, it's critical for the very first traffic across the threshold to be headed IN rather than OUT. (Remember what I said about taking out the garbage? DON'T DO IT!) The symbolism is simple  it's desirable for people and prosperity to flow towards your home during the year to come. 

My favorite "first footer" tradition of all is said to come from the southern United States. The sex of the first visitor through the door doesn't influence prosperity, but is said to shape the balance of power in a marriage for the coming year. If a man enters, then the husband will have more power. If it's a woman, the wife will be the more powerful partner.

As for myself, I think I'd invite a couple who had been happily married for many years to step over the threshold at the same time. I think that would be the luckiest thing of all!

Wishing you a positive, safe, happy New Year -- and an adventure or two for fun!

Dani Harper
http://www.daniharper.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Dani.Harper.Fan.Page

CREEPY CHRISTMAS SUPERSTIONS and FOLKLORE, Part 2

Last week's Christmas Superstitions included The Good, the Bad and the Scary. This week’s installment brings you some traditions that are downright creepy! They may not be true, but there's bound to be at least a couple that will give you a chill just the same.

Dogs that howl on Christmas Eve will go mad before the end of the year. A candle or a lamp should be kept burning all night on Christmas Eve to avoid a death in the house in the following year.

Instead of water turning into wine at midnight on Christmas Eve, some hold the belief that the water in streams and wells turns into blood! Not only that, if you witness this change, you’ll die within the year!

A Scandinavian belief maintains that it's dangerous to go out on Christmas Eve because of the many supernatural beings that come out of their hiding places that night. Trolls, witches, goblins and ghosts are said to roam freely, including the spirits of the dead revisiting their previous homes. Gifts must be left outside – bowls of pudding and cream, clothes, tobacco and even ale – in order to appease some of these creatures. The most perilous time occurs between cock’s crow and dawn, when supernatural beings are at the peak of their power. To go outside means risking death or being carried off by them, never to be seen again.

Swedish folklore puts a chilling twist on this story. On Christmas Eve, they prepare their dining room with food and ale and blazing fire – and leave it overnight to enable the spirits of the dead to celebrate undisturbed. The family checks the chairs in the morning for traces of earth, proof that the dead have come calling!

Icelandic children lived in fear of being eaten by bloodthirsty ogres living in the mountains. The most ferocious of these was Mother GrĂ½la, who wandered through the village at Christmastime with her evil cat.

Instead of leaving out cookies for Santa, gifts and food had to be left out to appease the ogres. If they didn't like the offerings, they'd eat you. And if you didn't have at least one brand new article of clothing in honor of the season – the cat would eat you!

A once popular parlor game gave everyone an apple after dinner, which was then cut in half across the middle to reveal the pattern of the core. If the core is star-shaped (most apples have this), the owner of the apple will see another Christmas. If the core is a different shape, the owner’s death will occur in the next twelve months! The appearance of a four-pointed cross was worst of all – although what was worse than death is never mentioned.

Parlor games in Victorian England also included telling ghost stories by the fire, while keeping tabs on everyone’s shadow throughout the evening. If anyone’s shadow were to appear headless, that person would die within the coming year.

While most cultures consider it lucky to be born on Christmas, others definitely do not. In Greece, any child born during the 12 days of Christmas is in danger of morphing into a kallikantzaroi, a malevolent half-animal, half-human monster that lives underground most of the year. Such a creature will almost certainly devour his own brothers and sisters!

In Romania, Poland and Moldova, a child born on Christmas Day may become a werewolf. A different variation on this tale is that any child conceived during Advent (when parents apparently were supposed to abstain from such activities) was almost certainly doomed to become a were-animal by the time they reached adulthood. In some Slavic regions, a child be born anywhere between Christmas and Ephiphany will surely become a vampire after death.

To avoid bad luck, all Christmas decorations should be taken down by Candlemas (Feb. 2). However, make sure you clean up after them – every needle left behind in the house from the Christmas tree will cause the sighting of a spirit or a demon in the coming year. Some believe a stray needle or berry will result in a death in the family. (A good case for having an artificial tree!)

The danger isn't over once the decorations are down because a Christmas tree thrown outside will attract the attention of evil spirits and supernatural beings. For proper disposal, the tree must be burned immediately.

An old Breton tale tells the story of a blacksmith who refused to stop working after the church bell had rung for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Suddenly a tall man entered his shop with a scythe that needed mending.

The blacksmith did the work but the mysterious man refused to pay him. Instead, he told the blacksmith to send for a priest because this work would be the last he would ever do. By the time the roosters crowed on Christmas morning, the blacksmith was dead. He had mended the Scythe of the Grim Reaper himself.

Wishing you a merry-not-too-scary holiday season!

Dani Harper
http://www.daniharper.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Dani.Harper.Fan.Page

CHRISTMAS SUPERSTITIONS and FOLKLORE, Part 1

'Tis the season to dust off my favorite blogs of Christmases past!  Hope you enjoy this fun rerun!

As you know, I just can’t resist anything related to the paranormal. But Christmas? Who would have suspected that there was anything supernatural about such a warm fuzzy holiday?

I had a lot of fun researching Christmas superstitions and I was amazed by how MANY there were! In fact, there’s so much material I’ve decided to blog twice about this topic. Here then is the first installment. (By the way, here's the official disclaimer -- Remember, these are folktales and traditions, and not intended to be taken as truth!)

The Good….

Unmarried girls can cut a twig from a cherry tree on St. Barbora’s Day (Dec. 4th) and put it in water. If it blooms by Christmas Eve, marriage will follow within the year. Counting the stars on Christmas Eve will foretell the number of sheaves in your harvest. And if you see the sun shining through the limbs of the apple trees on Christmas Day, there’ll be an abundance of fruit the following year.

If you dream on any of the 12 nights between Christmas and Epiphany (Jan. 6), your dreams will come true in the next year. The first person in the household to hear a rooster crow or anyone who hears a cricket chirp on Christmas Day is going to have a very lucky year. Good luck follows those who give money to the poor on Christmas Day, to those who eat their breakfast by candlelight, and to those who stir the Christmas pudding.

The Bad….

Bad, bad fortune follows those who leave the dishes unwashed on Christmas Eve (and that’s on top of what Mom will do to you!). On Christmas Day, it’s unlucky to leave the dinner table before everyone has finished. A full moon on Christmas predicts a scanty harvest in the year to come. If Christmas Day falls on a Thursday, a year of windy weather is forecast.

On Christmas Eve it’s said that you can hear the bells of lost churches that have been covered by floods or buried by landslides and earthquakes. Picking up nuts or fruit from the ground will bring bad luck. So will sending carolers away without treats or money. And you really don’t want to be the first one home from church!

And the Scary….

A piece of winter greenery (holly, mistletoe, evergreen, etc.) must be brought into your home during the Christmas season, to keep away evil spirits. However, every winter leaf left in the house after Candlemas (Feb. 2) will result in the sighting of a ghost, or perhaps even a death in the house during the coming year! Mistletoe must be burned, or those who kissed beneath it will become enemies.

Those born on Christmas Day are rumored to be able to see ghosts and spirits. And those who are born on Christmas Eve are said to turn into ghosts themselves on that day every year! (Wow, this sounds more like Halloween, doesn’t it?) The only way to avoid this odd fate is to remain awake the entire night until Christmas Day dawns.

That's all for this post. Watch for more on Christmas superstitions!

Dani Harper
http://www.daniharper.com/