SUMMER READS BLOG HOP - Dani Harper's Giveaway

First of all, huge thanks to Herding Cats and Burning Soup for hosting this awesome summer hop!

Summer and reading go together as naturally as baseball and hotdogs or movies and popcorn!

Where do you do your summer reading? When I was a kid, I liked to spend my reading time in trees or on the roof! Hammocks are glorious things, but so are recliners in front of the fan when the temperature climbs too high to venture outside....

What's on your summer reading list? 

I always have a horror book on the go in the hot weather -- not sure exactly why. My hubby suggested it's because it's easier to handle the scary stuff when there's plenty of daylight! He may have a point....

Anyway, my 2014 summer horror read was
THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan.
"Was", because I already finished devouring it!
Vampires are scary again, and I absolutely LOVED this book! I was so impressed with so many things in this story, it's impossible to list them all. Gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. (Click here for my review of The Strain)

I've enjoyed science fiction my entire life, and I have one on my summer list of must-reads:  BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest (steampunk, zombies and alternate history -- what a great combo!)  Not only am I hearing great things about this series, but I'm really interested in writing a Steampunk story myself. (What do you think?) Started reading Boneshaker on July 3rd, and so far, I'm captivated!

Of course there's urban fantasy and paranormal romance on my list! PNR is the genre I currently write in, although I hope to move over to UF one day soon. Meanwhile, I have a couple of series to finish reading:

REDEMPTION - Book 4 of the Alchemy Series by Donna Augustine. The first three books have been TERRIFIC and I'm dying to read the last installment. (Plus, the sooner I finish this one, the sooner I can start her brand new KARMA series. 
Already have the first ebook loaded!)

And finally, I'm going to read THE KING by J.R. Ward. I've waited this long partly because I just can't bear to see the Black Dagger Brotherhood series come to an end. I already have it loaded onto my Kindle, but I'm looking forward to getting the paperback when it comes out in late August -- I want a copy to go on the shelf with the rest of my collection. (Have I ever mentioned that I really HATE hardcover books? They look nice, but they're awkward and heavy for reading.)

I'd have a lot more books on my list, but I need extra time to write this summer. Gotta hand in Book 3 of the Grim Series*, STORM WARNED to my editor soon! 
If you haven't gotten a chance yet, I hope you'll check out Books 1 and 2, STORM WARRIOR, and STORM BOUND.

*The Grim Series is bringing Celtic mythology and hot heroes - plus even hotter faeries - into modern-day America!

Meanwhile, be sure to enter my Rafflecopter giveaway.
You could win Kindle Ebooks of Storm Warrior and Storm Bound
PLUS your choice of one of the four books 
on my list above in Kindle Ebook form*! 
THREE ebooks in total. (Already own mine? We can talk...)
Prize will be sent via Amazon.

Giveaway is USA/Canada only this time, folks. 
*Note - For fans who do not have Kindles, there are a variety of free Kindle reading apps 
that can be downloaded to various devices such as iPad, computer or smart phone. 
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ALSO check out the GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY below for the Summer Reads Blog Hop!

Over 70 authors participating in this great Hop - 

Summers Spent With Books - and a chance to win a Dani Harper tote bag!

Trees were made for climbing ... and for reading in!
Summer vacation and reading have always gone together for as long as I can remember! I spent as much time as I could in the public pool or the creek, but when it was time to dry off, I was in the shade with my face in a book ... or better yet, walking or biking to the public library and spending a couple of magical hours there.

The high-ceilinged old building had vast oak shelves and a hardwood floor that creaked, and somehow the place stayed cool even on the hottest days. It was an Aladdin's cave of wonders for me, a treasure trove I never tired of. Most of the books were reeeally old, but I didn't mind a bit (and I still adore the aroma of old books!).

Fun trivia --- According to a 2009 study, old books have an unmistakable smell that is as much a part of them as their contents --- "a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness". Sounds like someone describing a unique wine!

Built in 1913 by Andrew Carnegie, this was the library
I frequented as a kid. I spent a lot of time reading 
on top of the broad concrete bannisters 
in the summer because they always stayed cool!
(Of course, by the time I was born, there were lots of
big beautiful TREES that shaded the building!)
My old library today! It's not a library anymore,
but I'm happy it's still standing -- it's like seeing
an old friend when I visit my hometown!
Since I lived in Canada, most of the children's books in my town library were British, and I read a LOT of stories involving faeries that I'm sure have influenced me to this day (and helped inspire my novels, STORM WARRIOR and STORM BOUND). I adored myth and legend (still do!), and poured over collections of Greek, Roman, Norse and Celtic lore.

I feel very fortunate that my reading level was far above my age. Not only could I read fast, but I comprehended and remembered what I read. And my appetite for books was insatiable.... By the time I was ten, I was venturing fearlessly into every section. There was an entire wall devoted to science fiction, another to fabulous old classics -- I read the unabridged versions of The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, Frankenstein, and everything by Rudyard Kipling. I adored the supernatural, and devoured all the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker. And YES, I definitely remember the day I discovered JRR Tolkien!  Non-fiction was great too -- science and geography and ANYTHING about animals of any kind. I repeatedly dragged home a huge dry book on electricity, but I have to admit, I never really conquered that one. If only Robert Louis Stevenson or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had written it....

New books were few and far between at this library -- I don't think there was much in the way of funding at the time -- but the librarian often saved those precious new books JUST FOR ME to read first, bless her heart! Of course, since I was there two or three times a week in the summer, and at least once a week the rest of the year, no one else was kept waiting for the book for very long!

I was also given the rare privilege of taking out as many books from the library as I wanted -- the limit was usually 3! My personal best was reading 22 full-sized novels in a single week! (No wonder my parents finally installed a huge basket on the front of my bicycle -- the kind that newspaper carriers used!)

One summer in particular really showcased my diverse interests. I remember reading Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (long before I ever saw the movie), The Cybernetic Brains by Raymond F. Jones, several of Ray Bradbury's works (S is for Space and The Martian Chronicles are within reach on my Keeper Shelf as I write this), Rosemary's Baby, the entire John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolf, plus a huge tome on biology, evolution and Mendal's work on genetics! (And those are just the books I can remember from that season...)

In the summer, though, WHERE you read is almost as important as the books! At the library, there really wasn't any room to sit inside -- the whole place was taken up with bookshelves. But the cement bannisters that flanked the outside stairs were usually shaded and cool in the hottest weather, although a little hard.

Someday, I'm going to have a place on the roof just to read...
At home, most of my literary delights were enjoyed either under or in a tree beside a stream where wild yellow irises bloomed. If the bugs got too bad outside, then I had a corner of the basement with an old kitchen table and chairs. When I wasn't building model airplanes or doing crafts there, I was reading, reading, reading.

My all-time favorite place, however, was the roof. I discovered a way to climb up there when I was about 12 and it was fabulous ---- until my mom found out where I was hiding, and that was the end of that! Darn!

However, ONE thing I rarely had with me when I went to the library was a book bag. It wasn't so bad if I had my bike (AFTER I got the basket put on, that is...), but walking meant holding the books in my arms -- and I lived a long way from the library! So for my giveaway this time, I'm offering FIVE of my deluxe canvas tote bags as prizes. (PS - open to INTERNATIONAL entries)
Happy Summer! 
Happy Reading! 
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Get an AUTHORGRAPH from Dani Harper!

I never had a way to sign ebooks for my readers before,
but Authorgraph provides a way to send them an autograph
It isn't attached to the ebook itself 
(when, oh when, are they going to figure out how to do that?
but you DO get a personal message 
and a real signature from me that you can view on 
your reading device or your computer!

Getting an Authorgraph is EASY-PEASY:

·        go to and search or browse for "Dani Harper" or for the title of any of my six books currently available OR you can go to Dani Harper's Fan Page on Facebook and click on the Authorgraph tab (might have to hit the "more" pull-down tab to get it to show up --- Facebook sometimes doesn't show all the available tabs on my page, darn it!) 
·        Select the book you'd like "authorgraphed"
·        Click "Request Authorgraph" (you can include a short message to me, letting me know if there's something special you'd like written, or just to say Hi!)
·        You'll receive an email when I've signed your Authorgraph
·        View your Authorgraph in your favorite reading app or device - TA DA!

Sincerely yours,

Dani Harper
Author of CHANGELING MOON, RITA Finalist in PNR
New Release: STORM BOUND, Book 2 in the Grim Series
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Introduction to TAROT CARDS, and a STORM BOUND giveaway

The heroine of my latest novel, STORM BOUND, is modern witch and magic-shop owner, Brooke Halloran. She reads the tarot, both for herself and others, daily --- but she is surprised when she suddenly receives the same reading nine times in a row!  

What does it mean?  And how does it apply to the naked stranger who shows up in her arms after a spell goes awry?

Because of my heroine's use of tarot in the story, I thought it would be a good time to dust off a blog I wrote a while back which might explain a few things. And probably the first thing a person needs to know is this:

Tarot cards are not Magic 8-Balls! 

You will meet a tall, handsome stranger...” is more the stuff of fortune cookies than tarot. The purpose of a reading isn’t to tell you what to do – it’s to engage your own intuition. The pictures on the cards are powerful psychological archetypes which can help you gain insight about yourself and your circumstances by tapping into your subconscious.

About the Tarot Deck
The traditional tarot deck has 78 cards, although modern variations may have fewer. Like ordinary playing cards, fifty-six of them are divided into four suits.

Instead of Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs, you have Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles.
Each suit has 14 cards, with numbers 1 through 10 plus four royal cards – Page, Knight, Queen and King.

What most people think of when they hear the word tarot are the archetypal cards, like “The Tower”, “The Star”, “Justice”, “The Fool”, “The Lovers”, and “The Sun”. There are 22 of these trump cards, called “The Major Arcana”. The 56 suit cards are “The Minor Arcana”. Arcana means mystery in Latin, and the term wasn’t applied to tarot cards until later in their history, about 1870.

A Sampling of the Major Arcana

THE FOOL – Often the appearance of this card signifies a beginning of a journey, although not necessarily a physical one. It may be mental, emotional or spiritual in nature. Happiness and optimism abound.

STRENGTH:  From one of my all-time 
favorite decks, The Annotated Tarot of the 

Sevenfold Mystery by artist Robert M. Place*

THE LOVERS – This card often indicates harmony and union, but is not necessarily about love at all. It may represent choices to be made or a decision between two paths.

STRENGTH – This card typically shows a woman with a lion. She may be holding the lion’s mouth open or just standing beside it. The image represents not just strength, but courage, self-control and determination.

THE CHARIOT – This card often represents triumph over adversity, some obstacle overcome, a well-deserved victory.

THE EMPEROR – As might be expected, this card signifies authority, corporate structure or government. It may stand for someone in a position of authority in your life, like a boss or a parent.

THE HANGED MAN – The picture is usually of a man dangling by his foot, and as such, often means a temporary suspension of progress. Circumstances may actually be turned on their head and a waiting period may be in the works.

(* here's a link to The Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by artist Robert M. Place )

OMG, I’ve drawn the Death Card!
DEATH:  From one of my all-time 
favorite decks, The Annotated Tarot 
of the Sevenfold Mystery
by artist Robert M. Place.
Let's just lay this one to rest (no pun intended!). With its skeletal figure, the Death card has been often been used in stories, movies and even video games to scare the bejeebers out of people. First and foremost, it’s not about literal death (whew!).

In fact, the Death card can be a very positive card. It's usually the symbol for CHANGE, signifying either the end of one thing or the beginning of another. It can mean transformation and regeneration, hope and rebirth. In fact, psychologist Carl Jung attributed the Death card in tarot with a new standpoint or perspective.

Think of the Chinese word for crisis – the glyph contains the symbols for both danger and opportunity, and opportunity is stronger. Drawing the Death card can indicate that despair can now give way to hope – a very good change!

(* here's the link again to The Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by artist Robert M. Place )

Choosing your Tarot Deck
HELLO KITTY TAROT has the least scary Death card imaginable!
(Apparently not in print at this time - darn!)

You need to use a deck of cards that appeals to you and there are thousands of decks out there to choose from. Many people collect tarot decks for their gorgeous artwork (I own a Celtic deck called the Sacred Circle Tarot, simply because it’s beautiful).

Two popular decks have a Native American theme, the Sacred Path Cards: The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings and Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals.

If you have a particular passion, someone is sure to have designed a deck around it. For instance, the Tarot of White Cats (yes, all of the characters depicted in the cards are cats), Mystic Faerie TarotSalvador Dali Tarot and Golden Dragon Tarot. There’s even Hello Kitty TarotShapes and sizes vary too. There are even decks with round cards, hexagonal and triangular cards!

It’s important to find cards that you feel good working with.

It’s an intensely personal choice – what feels right to one person may feel very differently to someone else. The very first deck I purchased was the traditional Rider-Waite design. When I opened the box and touched the cards, I was repelled. It’s not that I didn’t know what they were going to look like, it’s that they didn’t feel good to me. I got a headache every time I tried to use them and I soon gave them away. Other people swear by the Rider-Waite and use nothing else.

Through trial and error, I eventually found a deck called The Gilded Tarot. It’s a beautiful deck (see picture below), but more importantly, the cards resonate with me and I can work with them easily.

By the way, the deck that inspired the one that my hero, Aidan, chooses for himself in STORM BOUND, is the beautiful Llewellyn Tarot shown at left.

This is my all-time favorite deck, THE GILDED TAROT, the one I use myself. It comes with an excellent and
easy-to-understand book by Josephine Ellershaw: “Learning to Use the Tarot Once and For All”
Be Energy-Conscious

I keep a large chunk of clear quartz
with my tarot cards to clear them
of negative energy. I don't know if
it works, but it makes me feel good!
Owning your own deck of tarot cards and handling them regularly is very important. This is so the cards pick up your energy and hold it. For this reason, they shouldn’t be handled by anyone else. (This is also why buying a used deck of tarot cards isn’t advised – they’re saturated with energy from strangers.) In fact, most people who do tarot readings keep a separate deck only for that purpose or ask you to bring one of your own.

The more familiar you become with your personal deck and the more you develop a close working relationship with them, the more your natural intuition will be enhanced and the better your readings will become.

Some people believe that it’s bad karma or bad luck to buy your own tarot cards, that your first deck must be gifted to you by someone else. Most tarot readers agree that this is a myth. There’s nothing wrong with getting your own set of cards – in fact, it’s desirable to do this so you can select the deck that appeals most to you, or that you feel drawn to.  

Note: You might love all things Victorian, but a Victorian-themed deck of tarot cards may not work for you. Who knows, you might respond better to Feng Shui Tarot or even the brightly colored Hawaiian Tarot! Sometimes you have to experiment a little.

Books to Help You

There isn’t room in a blog to discuss all there is to know about tarot. You’re going to need a good book (or more than one) to use as a resource. As I said before, I mostly use Josephine Ellershaw’s “Learning to Use the Tarot Once and For All”, but you need to find the one that resonates best with you. Many tarot decks come with their own books, which is a good place to start.

You might want to look at books specifically designed for beginners such as Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners by Joan Bunning, Tarot for Beginners: An Easy Guide to Understanding and Interpreting the Tarot by P. Scott Hollander. There's even an Idiot’s Guide and a For Dummies book on Tarot! (I didn't like the For Dummies book myself, but someone else might.) 

For someone who wants a deeper understanding of Tarot, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack or Mary K. Greer's 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card may be for you.

Most of all, don't forget that no matter what a book says, the meanings of the cards are fluid and adaptable. What a card means is what you feel it means. Intuition trumps all! 

Dani Harper

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SPRING FLING SCAVENGER HUNT - only a few days left to enter!

THE SPRING FLING SCAVENGER HUNT is ending May 15 - but you've still got time!

Easy to enter - just fill in a missing word(s) from book blurbs for chances to win AWESOME AUTHOR CREATED GIFT BASKETS! There are only 12 required finds in order to enter --- but there are many more authors you can discover! 

For this Scavenger Hunt, I've put together one of my best prize baskets yet -- it's full of Celtic-themed goodies in honor of my latest paranormal fantasy release, Storm Bound, Book Two of the Grim Series.

My Celtic prize basket contains:

- Signed paperback STORM BOUND by Dani Harper, - unabridged audio CD set of STORM WARRIOR by Dani Harper, read by actress Justine Eyre
- Celtic-themed journal
- Celtic pewter pendant
- pewter dog magnet (Grim mastiff)
- Llewellyn Tarot Cards
- $25 Gift Card from Amazon

Total value = over $100!
Note - although most of my events are open to International entries, this time it's USA only. 

Storm Bound -
When a wayward spell unites a modern-day witch and a cursed medieval blacksmith, their unexpected passion thrusts them into the path of an ancient, evil faery. Thrilling and sensual, this is the second book of the Celtic folklore-themed Grim Series.

Check out the SCAVENGER HUNT 
(full link below) and HAVE FUN!

Blogs team up for Kindle Fire Giveaway!


Are teaming up to celebrate 5,000 likes on both their Facebook pages! 

As a THANK YOU they are giving away 
a Kindle Fire, 
$25 Amazon Gift Card, 
and TONS of other prizes! 
(including a signed paperback of 
STORM BOUND by Dani Harper)

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Moons, Blood Moons, and Werewolves - is there a connection?

The Blood Moon is simply the coppery-red color
of a total lunar eclipse. But it's a favorite trope in
horror and paranormal fiction.
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.
~ Curt Siodmak

That poem was written for the 1941 film, The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. And it's been used several times since, including in the 2010 incarnation of this movie, starring Anthony Hopkins and Benicio De Toro.

Everyone "knows" the basic werewolf story: A hapless human is cursed to turn into a ravening beast during the full moon. But did you know that the idea of the lunar influence came mostly from Hollywood? Filmmakers wrote the moon into their early werewolf movies – and you have to admit, it's a great idea – but most of the old folktales and legends don't contain it. And historically, the moon isn't mentioned in accounts of actual werewolf trials of centuries past.

Traditionally, if you were a werewolf, you could change form whenever you wanted to. In Sweden, men became werewolves by drinking magic beer and chanting a spell. The oldest legends have humans putting on a whole wolfskin to cause themselves to change form. This is similar to the skinwalker legends of Native Americans, where a pelt was placed against the skin. In some stories, only a belt made of wolf fur was needed. The moon never plays a role!

In the Balkans, all you had to do to become a werewolf was drink the water from a wolf’s footprint. Or drink from a body of water where a wolf pack had just satisfied their thirst. Some rivers and streams were said to be lycanthropic – enchanted so that a single sip of their water would turn you into a wolf. If you could't find any magical water, you could simply eat the brains of a wolf (eeyeeew!) in order to gain the ability to shapeshift. But again, no moonlight was necessary.

The moon did prove useful in one European story. In Germany, Italy and France, it was said that both men and women could become shapeshifters by sleeping outside and allowing the full moon to shine on their faces for the entire night (especially on a Wednesday or a Friday). The story didn't mention if the spell was permanent or perhaps only lasted until the next full moon.

The moon didn’t matter a bit, however, if you were one of the unlucky folks to be made a werewolf by someone else. Often, the person doing the hexing was not a witch but a priest! From Russia to France, if you didn’t go to church or offended God in some other way, you could be officially cursed to become a werewolf.

In 14th century Normandy, the varouage was an excommunicated person who became a werewolf between Christmas and Candlemas or during Advent. During this time, the sinner was either redeemed – or doomed to belong to the devil and run as a werewolf forever. In Finland, if you were lucky enough to break the spell, you were still stuck with a wolf’s tail for the rest of your life! But at least you didn’t have to fear the moon.

Handy field guide
by Bob Curran
I collect werewolf folktales and legends, and I have many books and stories on the subject. One of my recent favorites has been Werewolves: A Field Guide to Shapeshifters, Lycanthropes, and Man-Beasts by Bob Curran. It's an easy place to start if you want to investigate the connection between the moon and the old wolf-man myths. And Curran has some excellent theories on why the moon became associated with werewolfism.

As a paranormal romance author, I have a passion for wolfen shapeshifters, and my first series revolves around a family of them, the Macleods. Driven from Scotland when wolves were being exterminated there, they found sanctuary in the wilds of northern Canada. They call themselves Changelings, and they’re extremely long-lived. Able to become wolves at will, regardless of what the moon might be doing at the time, they spend most of their time as humans in a human world, hiding in plain sight.

2013 Release
2012 RITA Award
However, having been raised on a diet of horror movies as a kid, I just had to give a nod to pop culture tradition. And so there is ONE occasion in a Changeling’s long, long life that the moon has power over them: their very first Change always occurs on a full moon! 

And because a human can become a Changeling if they’re bitten by one (another nod to the classic horror genre), the moon becomes a serious complication in the first book of the series:  CHANGELING MOONThe advent of the full moon also becomes a ticking clock in my most recent werewolf story as well:  FIRST BITE.

Love werewolves? Love the moon? Or just love a good legend? Enter my Rafflecopter contest below and you could win Kindle ebook copies of all 3 books  - my own Changeling Moon and First Bite, plus Bob Curran's Werewolves: A Field Guide to Shapeshifters, Lycanthropes, and Man-Beasts.  Giveaway is open to US, CANADA and the UK.  (Note -  If you do not own a Kindle, there are a variety of free Kindle reading apps that can be downloaded to various devices such as iPad, computer or smart phone.) 


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