15 Ways to make your New Year great! Traditions and customs from around the world.

Most of the traditions connected with New Year's Eve and New Year's Day could be summed up in a single sentence:

What you do is what you'll get!

In many cultures, what you do for the first hour of the New Year signifies what you’ll do the most of for the next twelve months! (Does sleeping count?) Here are fifteen of the most common superstitions.

1. Working hard on New Year’s Day will ensure a whole year of grueling labor! But if you do a small token task successfully – something related to your employment – this will set the tone for achievement. (I'm definitely planning to write!)

2. If the house is clean by midnight on Dec. 31st, it’ll be clean for the entire next year. (Do I have to sort the closets too?) Don't sweep on New Year's Day or you'll sweep out all your good luck! Don't do dishes or laundry either or you'll "wash away" a member of your family in the coming year.

3. In many countries, it's believed that all debts should be settled before the New Year. Don’t pay back loans or lend money on New Year’s Day however, or you’ll be paying out all year long!

4. If all your pockets and purses and wallets have coins and dollars in them by midnight, you’ll have plenty of money in the new year. (Note - it doesn't have to be large denominations - a penny and a one dollar bill will do it!) Holding a piece of gold or silver in your hand at the stroke of midnight will also bring prosperity. Some people place coins on windowsills and the tops of doors too.

5. If you wear new clothes on New Year’s Day, more new clothes will come your way. (Does that include purses and shoes?)

6. No crying, fighting, arguing, name-calling or general negativity on New Year’s Day or you’ll have strife and tears all year long.

7. Don’t let valuable things leave your house on New Year’s Day or luck and fortune will go with them. The general belief refers to things like money and jewelry, but some people believe that nothing – not even garbage! – should leave the house on New Year’s Day. Take the empties to the recycling bin some other time!

8. Make sure the cupboards and pantries are full on New Year’s Day, in order to ensure abundance the rest of the year.

9. Be careful with the dishes. If anything breaks on New Year’s Day, ill luck will follow. And if you break a mirror, the bad luck will be doubled. None of this applies, however, if you're Danish. They save up dishes all year to throw at the doors of their friends and neighbors. At the end of New Year's Day, the higher the pile of broken crockery on your front step, the more loyal friends you have.

10. Working on New Year’s Day will ensure a year filled with grueling labor. But if you do a small token task – something related to your employment – successfully, it’ll set the tone for achievement in the coming months.

11. When midnight approaches, open all the windows and doors to let the Old Year leave. In some traditions, just opening one window or door will work. Releasing the Old Year makes room for the New Year. In Puerto Rico, people toss buckets of water out the windows to help to clean out the old year.

12. Kissing at least one person at midnight ensures that love, friendship and affection will continue. To not give out a kiss indicates a long, cold and lonely year. (That’s dire – I’d kiss both my pugs to avoid a fate like that!). Kissing your spouse or your fiance is even better, ensuring that you'll live in love and happiness during the entire year to come.

13. Bad luck and evil spirits must be driven away in order to make room for good fortune. This belief is at the root of using noisemakers to welcome in the New Year. The more noise you can make, the better. In early pioneer America. the firing of guns into the air was practiced. Church bells are often rung at midnight in many countries for the same reason.

In Iran, pots and pans are banged together. And the Chinese can be thanked for introducing fireworks to New Year's celebrations to chase away demons and bad fortune. In Wales, singing door to door does the job. My favorite is an Irish tradition which calls for banging on the walls and doors with Christmas bread to frighten evil spirits and invite good ones into the house. (Finally - a good use for that fruitcake!)

14. In keeping with the "getting rid of the old to make way for the new", residents of Ecuador burn pictures of things they don't want. Each family also creates a scarecrow or puppet which is called the "Año Viejo" or Old Year. Lists of problems and worries might be stuffed inside the effigies, as well as newspaper, wood and sawdust. Setting fire to these effigies is said to destroy any bad things that may have happened over the twelve months. Jumping over the fire brings extra luck. Versions of this practice can be found in other cultures as well. Burning the old calendar is popular almost everywhere.

15. What you eat is said to influence your fortune for the coming year. It's lucky to eat black-eyed peas, and some say that one pea equals a coin you'll receive. Lentils will work too. But eating cabbage or other leafy greens might be more efficient – they're said to represent bills! Round foods are often synonymous with prosperity. In Spain and Portugal, they eat 12 grapes as the clock chimes midnight, ensuring 12 good months to come.

Foods that form a circle or a ring, such as doughnuts, are popular in Europe. (Homer Simpson would like this one) The shape signifies that the year has come full circle and is now complete.


My wish for all of my readers is that 2014 will bring you many moments of warmth and joy and laughter, and also bring you closer to hopes and dreams fulfilled.  

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

Your turn - What traditions did you grow up with? Have you heard of any that aren't listed here?

CREEPY CHRISTMAS - SUPERSTITIONS & FOLKLORE II

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 Grýla, 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 favorite blogs of Christmases past (or it is if you're working on a deadline...). For anyone who might have caught this one a couple years ago, hope you enjoy it a second time!

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 mean, a big jolly fellow travels all over the world with his flying reindeer in a single night, squeezes down tiny chimneys with a neverending bag of presents, knows if you’re naughty or nice but is never seen himself… Come to think of it, that IS pretty paranormal!

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

MISTLETOE - History, Myths and Legends

-- Mistletoe is the official state flower of Oklahoma! --
I'm still trying to make deadline with a novel, so I thought I'd re-share one of my my most popular posts this holiday season.... 

Today we use mistletoe as a Christmas decoration (and occasionally steal a kiss under it). But mistletoe has a much longer history than Christmas itself.

Mistletoe is unusual in the plant world because it doesn’t grow in the earth at all. Instead, it’s an aerial parasite that lives only in the boughs of trees. This uncommon plant not only remains green throughout the winter, but produces its pure white berries right around the time of the winter solstice.

The ancient Celts believed mistletoe to be a sacred gift from the gods. 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. It was vital that the mistletoe 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 petition him to increase the plant’s potency.

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 poisons. It was also used to promote fertility of both animal and human and occasionally even used in aphrodisiac potions. This sacred plant was associated with good fortune and great blessings.

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 Norse myth of Baldur takes us to the next phase of mistletoe tradition. The goddess, Frigga, was Baldur’s mother, and exacted a promise from every element, plant and animal, both on the earth and under the earth, not to harm Baldur. She forgot the mistletoe, which grows neither in the ground or on it. Loki, prankster and god of evil, tricked another god into shooting Baldur with an arrow made of mistletoe, 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.

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.

It wasn’t until Victorian times that the plant’s original status as a symbol of peace and love was revived, and the practice of kissing under the mistletoe was reinstated.

Dani Harper
www.daniharper.com

Your turn --- In your wildest fantasy, who would YOU like to meet under the mistletoe?

KRAMPUS - Santa's Demon Sidekick

Christmas is a time of dusting off old memories and sometimes old blogs --- especially since I'm tied up with a looming deadline right now. This is one of my very favorite posts, a piece of history that Americans are often unfamiliar with....


Our North American Santa Claus is loosely based on the European Saint Nicholas, a kind, gift-giving fellow traditionally portrayed in long bishop’s robes instead of a red suit. Saint Nick grew out of stories about an actual person, Nikolaos of Myra, a Greek bishop with a reputation for secret gift-giving such as leaving coins in shoes and working miracles.

So understanding Saint Nicholas is easy. It’s the company he keeps that raises questions and eyebrows. In Austria, Hungary, Bavaria and other Alpine countries, St. Nick’s assistant isn't a cute little elf, it's an enslaved demon. Yup, that’s right. D-E-M-O-N. This cloven-hoofed creature goes by many names, but most commonly is called Krampus, which is Old High German for claw.

Krampus
Perhaps the word for “long” would have suited him better. Not only does Krampus have lengthy talons, but sports exceptional horns on his head as well. His seven-foot tall body is usually covered with long shaggy hair (often black), he has a long tail and he has a tongue longer and more prehensile than that belonging to Gene Simmons' demon character of KISS fame.

If all that weren’t intimidating enough, Krampus is not only a demon, but an incubus. That’s a demon who sexually preys on sleeping humans! (Santa hangs out with a predator?!)

St. Nick and his goons

So while St. Nicholas got all the positive press by delivering gifts and treats to “good” boys and girls, Krampus was right by his side to dish out not just warnings but punishment to the “bad” children, and sometimes to adults too. In some places, the jolly old saint was accompanied by not one but several demons – his own personal gang of enforcers!

If you weren't saying your prayers, doing your chores and being properly respectful to elders, the penalty wasn't a mere lump of coal in your stocking. Krampus was armed with chains, a bag or basket and bundles of switches. If you were lucky, Krampus only took all your presents for himself. More often, you’d be spanked or even beaten. In some towns, kids had to run a long gauntlet of people dressed as Krampus and armed with switches!

Krampus taking "bad" children to Hell
Really naughty kids were allegedly shackled with chains or stuffed in a bag or basket, and carried off to Hell to burn forever – at least, that’s what children were told. In Switzerland, where Krampus is called Schmutzli, children were routinely threatened with being carried off to the dark forest by the demon or tied in his sack to be thrown in the river and drowned!

We've all seen little kids who are intimidated or downright terrified of department store Santas (some of us WERE those little kids!). How on earth did European children cope with seven-foot demons threatening them? Were they tougher than today's kids or were they scarred for life? Psychological studies hadn't been invented when St. Nick’s sinister sidekick first popped up in Germanic folklore around 1600. And the whole Christmas demon concept probably goes all the way back to pre-Christian winter solstice celebrations when pagan deities were said to roam the night.

Greetings from Krampus!
Krampus' popularity grew until eventually he got his own day. Krampusnacht was usually December 5th which is the eve of St. Nicholas Day in many regions. In some places, there were entire Krampus festivals held, where young men dressed up like demons and terrorized the local children (and unwary young women) for days. By the way, the reward for this important public service was beer and other spirits. Many of these traditional festivals continue to this day.

In the 1800s, while the Victorians were developing the notion of sending pretty Christmas cards, a trend emerged in some European countries to send scary, lewd and suggestive postcards of the yuletide demon! Instead of Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, these cards usually said “Greetings from Krampus!” (About as cheery to receive as “Compliments from Satan”!)

So the next time you start wishing for a real old-fashioned holiday, try singing “Krampus the Christmas Demon” to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and remember that the season of goodwill once had a very dark and disturbing side!

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

Your turn!  Have you ever heard tales of the Krampus? Got any other scary Christmas traditions to share?  By the way, have a look at this book on Amazon -
Krampus: The Devil of Christmas

Intuition, Instinct, Hunches & Gut Feelings -- Are you listening?

Intuition is perception via the unconscious. Carl Jung

What is your gut telling you right now? No, really. Sure, you’ve heard that you should listen to your “gut feelings” but while intuition is something everyone has, it’s not something we all pay attention to. And while most people accept the existence of intuition, you might not think of it as a psychic ability or tool.

So what is intuition, exactly?

The dictionary defines intuition as immediate understanding without reasoning or thought. In other words, if you have a problem, intuition jumps directly to the solution without passing Go or collecting $200. You don’t have to think about it, you suddenly just know what the answer is. Think about Ben Kenobi talking to Luke Skywalker: “Trust your feelings, Luke.”

Of course, many of us are afraid to trust that inner voice. The rational mind gets in the way, causing you to doubt and second-guess yourself. Later, you’ll probably hit yourself in the forehead and utter a loud Homer Simpson “D’Oh!”, wishing you’d listened to that feeling you had.

Is intuition a form of psychic ability then? A sixth sense? Perhaps. Alexis Carrel said: "Intuition comes very close to clairvoyance; it appears to be the extrasensory perception of reality."

Reality is in the eye of the beholder – or the mind. Intuition is said to come directly from the subconscious mind, which has the ability to “clue in” to reality as it is. On the other hand, the rational mind is constantly under the influence of past experience, emotions, ideas and countless other things. The rational mind can be focused on a single thing to the exclusion of all else. The rational mind can also be distracted. In contrast, the subconscious mind is constantly and consistently taking in every tiny detail of your surroundings, every nuance of every conversation, even the subtle body language of people in your vicinity. This means that the subconscious mind knows things that the rational or conscious mind does not!

Examples abound. You might walk into the office one morning and immediately sense that something is wrong. You haven’t talked to anyone or consciously noticed a problem yet you know something is not right. Or you might meet someone who is friendly, interesting and attractive – yet you have a nagging feeling that all is not what it seems. Conversely, you might run into someone who appears gruff and rough. Yet your gut tells you this person can be trusted. Your subconscious mind has picked up on things your rational mind doesn’t see. 

Still, intuition can go above and beyond simply registering clues in your immediate vicinity, and this is where intuition appears to cross over into the realm of the paranormal. (In fact, almost all types of psychic ability and ESP can be grouped under the general heading of intuition.)

One of my daughters gave me permission to share one of her experiences with my readers:

A few years ago, she lived in a small town and could only access the nearby big city by a winding coastal highway. She was SO excited to plan a shopping expedition to the city for a special occasion. The morning of the trip, however, brought something different.

“The second I was conscious of being awake, there was a huge thought in my head: Don’t go anywhere because you’ll be in a car accident today. It was as strong as I’ve ever felt anything in my whole life.”

Many of us would have passed it off but my daughter had had enough experiences to know that she needed to listen to her intuition, even though it meant missing something she’d been looking forward to for days.

“That day at the time I would have been on the highway, there was a big car pileup and seven people died. It was a four-lane highway, and the accident was so bad that it was closed for nine and half hours.” My daughter has no doubt that she would have been involved in the terrible accident somehow if she had stuck to her original plan.


By the way, many people report a physical sensation that accompanies this intuitive sensing. For some it may be a prickling of the skin or scalp, or even goosebumps; for others it might be a peculiar sensation in the stomach or heart region. One woman reported that her cheeks got very hot when she was experiencing this heightened perception.

As with most psychic tools, practice makes perfect. The more you listen to your intuition, the more you’ll be able to hear it.

So was there a time YOU listened to your intuition --- or wish you had?

Dani Harper's Top Ten Paranormal Heroes -- Part of the Hot Halloween Heroes Giveaway Hop


Welcome to the Hot Halloween Heroes Giveaway Hop, hosted by author Felicity Heaton and Indie Romance Books. The hop runs from October 29th to November 3rd 2013.

Halloween is the perfect time to celebrate our favorite supernatural heroes! It took me a long time to make this list because while some of my heroes will always be on it, others will come and go. Let me know what you think --- and definitely tell me who YOUR heroes are! 

.....................................................



Dani Harper's Top Ten Paranormal Heroes 

(from TV, movies, books, etc.)

Bones - Master Vampire and better half to Cat Crawlfield from the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost. "Kitten," he moaned as he threw me down onto the bed. "I only thought I was living before I met you. You'll love me until you die? That's not nearly long enough..." - Bones - Halfway to the Grave     Book Seven, said to be the last installment of this Urban Fantasy Series, comes out in January 2014.

Jericho Barrons - The dark and enigmatic male lead of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. “You choose what you can live with, and what you can't live without.”  - Jericho Barrons - Fever Series    Most of the time the reader isn't certain he's the hero, or even one of the good guys - but his presence overshadows all else in any scene he appears in, and many in which he is only mentioned!  

Thor - A god of Asgard, one of the Nine Realms. Arrogant and over-confident, he is banished to Midgard (Earth) in the 2011 movie. Actor Chris Hemsworth brings the thunder as Thor not only learns humility and becomes one of Earth's greatest defenders, but also falls in love. "Your ancestors called it magic...but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same." - Thor   His character is further developed in The Avengers (2012), and many of us are counting the days until the newest movie, Thor: The Dark World, comes to theaters in November!  

Blade - Master of the dreaded Whitechapel Rookeries in the Steampunk Paranormal, Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster. Despite his well-deserved reputation for ruthlessness against the hated Echelon, he is loyal and compassionate to those under his protection, the cast-offs of society. “Easy, luv. Don't stir the devil, or you'll 'ave to pay the consequences." - Blade   His street-smarts don't protect him from being blindsided by the heroine, however. 

Mircea Basarab - 500-year-old Master Vampire, one-time Romanian prince, and currently a member of the powerful Vampire Senate. This powerful and mesmerizing character appears in both the Cassandra Palmer series and the Dorina Basarab series by Karen Chance. Mircea has been a protector of Cassandra Palmer since she was a child, when she was kidnapped for her abilities as a seer. Now that she's grown up, she's powerfully drawn to him --- but is no longer sure if Mircea loves her for herself or her power. “You know, dulceata, there are times when I truly believe you are the most frightening person I know." - Mircea 

Dean Winchester - Brought to life by actor Jensen Ackles in the TV series, Supernatural. Dean and his younger brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) are human, and hunters of things that go bump in the night. Together they've saved the world several times over -- but I admit, Dean's the one I root for most. His extreme loyalty to his brother and his constant willingness to move heaven and earth, literally, for Sam, speaks to me. Just because you're blood doesn't mean you're family. You have to earn it. - Dean Winchester   Besides, he loves pie! Supernatural is now in its 8th season, and both stars agreed in July to return for seasons 9 and 10!

Vishous - Member of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, his story unfolds in Lover Unbound. Gifted and intelligent, he is nonetheless cursed and tortured by his vampire father, and kept at an icy distance from his goddess mother. The last thing he's looking for is love -- until he meets Dr. Jane Whitcomb. “I love you. And I'm going to keep loving you even after you don't know I exist.” - Vishous  Caution: do not read this without at least two boxes of kleenex.   

Rune Ainissesthai - Wyr Sentinel and griffin shapeshifter, from the Elder Races series by Thea Harrison. The tale of his relationship with vampire queen, Carling, is emotionally rich (told in the book Serpent's Kiss). “If you fail somehow--if you die--I will search for a way to walk through time to find you. No matter where you are. No matter when. I swear it." - Rune  And by the way, Rune's boss, Dragos Cuelebre, leader of the Wyrkind, deserves a mention too, but only for tasty Alpha Male goodness.

Larkin Riddock - One of the heroes in the Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts, his story is told in Book 2, Dance of the Gods. Larkin has an amazing gift, to be able to shapeshift into any animal at will, from the mundane to the fantastic. He is one of six humans chosen by the gods to battle evil -- and the fate of more than one world depends on the outcome. A greater battle for Larkin, however, is winning over the heart of one of his fellow champions -- Blaire Murphy. "I'm not asking about your feelings," she began. "I'm telling you whether you ask or not." - Larkin Riddock  Just re-read this book recently and yes, I still want him on my list!


Spike - Vampire extraordinaire from the now classic TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The actor, James Marsters, breathed more than attitude into this character, and I am still in awe of Spike's amazing journey from villain to hero, and the sacrifices he makes to be worthy of the love of Buffy Summers. "...A hundred plus years, and there's only one thing I've ever been sure of: you. [Buffy looks away; he reaches toward her face] Hey, look at me. I'm not asking you for anything. When I say, "I love you," it's not because I want you or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You're a hell of a woman. You're the one, Buffy." - Spike   She should have picked him over the forever-crippled-by-angst Angel. There, I said it and I'm glad.


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FIRST BITE by Dani Harper kicks off the Dark Wolf Series - a whole new world of Changelings to love

First Bite
by Dani Harper
Series: Dark Wolf #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publish Date: October 15th 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Paperback/Ebook, 300 pages

Book Description:
Geneva “Neva” Ross doesn’t want to die. But now that she’s been turned into a werewolf against her will, she’ll do anything to protect her family and friends…even if that means taking her own life.
After witnessing Neva’s leap from a high ledge, Travis Williamson—a Changeling with a dark past—uses his powers to save her life. He feels a connection to the strong-willed woman whose eyes flash that familiar Changeling green. While Neva is hospitalized, Travis risks everything to kidnap her, knowing the approaching full moon will put everyone in jeopardy.
Bickering constantly to hide their growing attraction, Travis and Neva run from the authorities…and from Neva’s sinister sire, Meredith de la Ronde. Meredith delights in creating new shape-shifters and compelling them to do her dark bidding; now Neva must join Meredith’s murderous wolf pack…or die.
Intensely suspenseful with deliciously sexy twists, this paranormal romance—the first in the Dark Wolf Series—intertwines sensual passion with an epic, thrilling battle between good and evil.
Purchase Links:  Amazon | B&N | Add to Goodreads
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HALLOWEEN SCAVENGER HUNT 2013 - Dani Harper

Night Owl Reviews is hosting a

HALLOWEEN SCAVENGER HUNT 2013

FILL IN A MISSING WORD(S) FROM BOOK BLURBS FOR CHANCES TO WIN AWESOME AUTHOR CREATED GIFT BASKETS!

STARTING SEPTEMBER 15TH
ENDING OCTOBER 31ST

Find great authors and books - EASY to enter!



COLLECTIBLE
WEBKINZ BLACK WOLF,
PART OF DANI HARPER'S
GIFT BASKET

DANI'S PRIZE:

I've put together a 
WOLF-THEMED GIFT BASKET as my giveaway for the Halloween Scavenger Hunt.

One lucky reader will win a KINDLE e-reader (Wi-Fi with 6" display) plus a Webkinz Black Wolf, an ebook of my new release FIRST BITE, a bag of Wicked Wolf Coffee, and swag.    Total Value = $100+


SIGNED PAPERBACK OF Dani's
Newest PARANORMAL RELEASE
12 OZ BAG OF WICKED WOLF
ORGANIC COFFEE

















SCHOOL'S IN SESSION GIVEAWAY HOP

If Halloween is my favorite time of year, then the Back-to-School season is a very close second. No, not because I have kids heading to class and I'm looking forward to some peace and quiet. I have 3 dogs, 9 chickens, a rooster and a neighborhood with many hot rod enthusiasts, children and feral cats. There IS no peace and quiet in my immediate future.

Nope, the reason I love this time of year is all because of school supplies. There's nothing I love more than wandering the aisles of Staples or Office Depot, or lingering in the seasonal section of the grocery store, gazing happily upon all that marvelous, wonderful, pristine, untouched stationery.

Paper --- lined, unlined, reams, pads and looseleaf. Wonderful tools to write with -- pens, markers, pencils and crayons. Oh, and not to mention colorful clipboards, file folder stands, organizers and more. Then there's acres of computers, laptops, smartphones, iPads, printers, desks, office chairs and more, more, more.

And don't get me started on sticky notes...

Why do I love school supplies so much? It has little to do with school (my apologies to teachers everywhere) and everything to do with POTENTIAL!!!

Whether I'm walking along the student supply aisle of a big box store or a little convenience store, I am all but overcome by the sheer potential of all that blank paper --- and the stories just waiting to be written.

Naturally, most of my actual writing is done on my laptop. But that's the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a novel. I leave a trail of notes everywhere I go. I have binders full of the latest versions of manuscripts, file folders with character bios, story ideas on steno pads, sample scenes and deleted scenes in notebooks. And sticky notes, sticky notes, STICKY NOTES....

Today I'm participating in the SCHOOL'S IN SESSION Giveaway Hop, sponsored by Ruby's Reads (http://rubysreads.com). I'm a paranormal writer, but I haven't written any scary boarding school stories, so I'm going to rely on Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy for some prize help.

I'm offering two gently-used paperbacks, Books 1 and 2, of this fabulous series ---- plus, 'tis the season of bookbags, right?  I have a Dani Harper Tote Bag up for grabs too.  The Rafflecopter explains it all below.

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Lovestruck Giveaway Hop - Win a e-book of STORM WARRIOR by Dani Harper

To be lovestruck is to be overwhelmed with a passionate feeling of love for someone;  struck by love as if struck by a lightening bolt! You are instantly in love the moment you meet this person. Head over heels for them, you experience love at first sight, you're besotted, charmed, and/or you're smitten as if with a knockout punch. 

Wow! That's what romance novels are all about. But in books as in life, love is an individual experience. The hero and heroine seldom fall in love at the same time, or at the same rate --- if they did, we wouldn't have much of a story to read!

In my new paranormal release, STORM WARRIOR (Book 1 of the Grim Series), the hero is Rhys, a handsome Celt who's been freed from a 2000-year-old curse by the kindness of unsuspecting Morgan Edwards, an independent woman who firmly believes in science and logic. For him, she's the one. For her ... well, let's just say she's going to be a helluva challenge for the powerful warrior.

BLURB -- As a child, Morgan Edwards marveled at the faery tales spun by her beloved grandmother, stories of the magical beings hidden in the heart of ancient Wales. But now Morgan is all grown up, a veterinarian who believes only in what science can prove—until the night a massive black dog saves her from a vicious attack, and life as she knows it changes forever. Suddenly a stranger stands before her, the man of her dreams made flesh and blood not by science, but by a magic that could bring them their hearts’ desires...or cost them everything they have.

THE LOVESTRUCK GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP

Hosted by Under the Covers , this blog hop runs from August 14 to August 20, 2013. Nearly 130 authors and bloggers are participating with giveaways! 

My giveaway for this hop - three people will each win a Kindle ebook of my new release, Storm Warrior! Prizes will be sent through Amazon. Don't have a Kindle? There are free Kindle reading apps that can be downloaded to a wide variety of devices such as iPad, computer or smart phone.

Enter by using the Rafflecopter. This particular giveaway is open to USA, Canada and the UK.







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STORM WARRIOR - Death's Messenger becomes the Hero in this new Paranormal Novel by Dani Harper

STORM WARRIOR by Dani Harper features a GRIM,
a legendary black dog who is a messenger of death,
from the folklore of Celtic countries such as Wales 
My friends, family and readers are well aware that I adore shapeshifters, and my novels to date have been filled with Changelings who can transform from human to wolf at will.

And it's true that I'm usually a werewolf kind of gal, totally over the moon for the tall, dark and furry kind of guy.

Not this time.

Yes, STORM WARRIOR is shapeshifter story of sorts, but you won't find a single wolf in this tale! Instead it combines Celtic myth with faery lore from Wales. (Like the heroine, Morgan Edwards, I was lucky to have a Welsh gramma!)

The result is a hot hero, Rhys, who has been cursed by the faeries to be a Grim, a legendary black dog.

THE GRIM - THE BLACK DOG IN LEGEND AND LORE

STORM WARRIOR  by Dani Harper
RELEASES AUGUST 6, 2013
I love a good ghost story and a ghost DOG story is even better! One of my favorite Welsh folktales concerns the Grim, a legendary canine with many names: The Black Dog, the Gwyllgi, the Dog of Darkness, the Barghest, Dog of the Twilight and Black Hound of Destiny. The creatures is said to resemble a giant mastiff, larger than any living dog, and its eyes are often red and glowing.

The legend dates back to Celtic times in Wales. The Grim, or Black Dog, is the herald of Death itself, and those who see the animal are usually destined to die very soon. The dog appears without warning, follows or even chases people – yet vanishes without a trace. Electrical storms are often associated with the dog’s appearance (and yup, there’s a thunderstorm early on in Storm Warrior)

This otherworldly beast has counterparts in many parts of the British Isles. For centuries, black dogs have haunted particular towns, roads and forests in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. Occasionally, they have even cursed particular families.

Negative associations with dark dogs seem to be part of our collective human consciousness. It’s a frightening archetype throughout myth and legend, from Cerberus, the hideous canine that guards the entrance to the Underworld, to the black Hounds of the Norse god, Odin, to the Hellhounds that follow the Faery Hunt. Plus, a common pseudonym for depression is The Black Dog.

It's an unfortunate but well-documented truth that large black dogs are far less likely to be adopted from an animal shelter.   :(   It's called BDS or Black Dog Syndrome, and many shelters join in programs like the nationwide "Back in Black" event to encourage the adoption of black pets.


STORM WARRIOR by Dani Harper
RELEASES AUGUST 6, 2013
THE GRIM - THE BLACK DOG IN FICTION

In classic fiction, the haunting of a specific family by a black dog helped inspire the 1901 classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Big black dogs continue to appear in pop culture. Remember "the Grim" in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling? TV series such as SupernaturalReaper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all featured monstrous and malevolent hounds. The legend of the black dog is also alive and well in many video games. The Lord of the Rings online computer game features just such an animal.



GRIM - BLACK DOG SIGHTINGS IN AMERICA

STORM WARRIOR  by Dani Harper
RELEASES AUGUST 6, 2013
Did you know there are sightings of ghostly canines right here in the United States? Black dogs are said to haunt Macon County, Tennessee and foretell death and calamity. US Highway 491 is also said to be haunted by dogs of darkness – which perhaps is not surprising when you find out that the highway was originally named Route 666! Motorists report braking for giant black dogs – only to have them vanish at the moment of impact!

Even Long Island, New York has a black dog legend. Just like its Welsh counterpart, seeing the creature is said to be followed by death within a month. The supernatural canine that roams the hills of Connecticut is a little more forgiving – you have to see that particular black dog three times before writing out your will.

Think you’re safe if you stay home at night? Maybe not. There are many stories out there of seeing the Grim in a nightmare. As if the bad dream wasn’t enough, it’s said to be followed by dire events, even death. People have reported the giant black dog appearing inside their home, complete with glowing eyes, only to have it vanish when the light was turned on. Illness or death in the family or other catastrophe followed.


THE GRIM - THE BLACK DOG AS A HERO

STORM WARRIOR  by Dani Harper made #5 on the 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Top 10 list of Romance and
Erotica for this fall
In its defense, however, the Grim hasn’t always been threatening, at least not to the innocent. In some tales, the animal is an instrument of justice, hunting down escaped murderers. But a few stories recount incidents where the great beast protected children or guarded lone travelers.

This made me wonder – what if the spectral creature had a conscience, a sense of right and wrong? What if the Grim didn’t mindlessly follow its mission? What if the Black Dog didn't want to be Death's Messenger? What if it wasn't really a dog at all?

That was the proverbial "aha moment" in which my story was conceived!

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Originally I wrote my Black Dog story as a short ebook-novella called A Leap of Knowing -- and foolishly, I thought I was finished with Grims.  
Not so! 
I swear the characters "hounded" me ever after to write more because the story was soooo much bigger than the little novella could do justice to. 

In STORM WARRIOR, this paranormal fantasy/romance is finally the rich full-length novel it was always meant to be. And right now, I can hardly believe I'm working on Book Two, Storm Bound!

After all, there are so many more black dogs out there...

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GOODREADS GIVEAWAY OF STORM WARRIOR




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Storm Warrior by Dani Harper

Storm Warrior

by Dani Harper


Giveaway ends August 21, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


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