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?

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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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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.







a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Storm Warrior - the storm has begun! ARC Giveaway!

Once in a while it seems that the Universe really, really wants you to do something.... That's how I've felt about my upcoming release, STORM WARRIOR. It was a story I just HAD to write.


Apparently the Universe knew something I didn't. This past week, I got an email from my editor notifying me that STORM WARRIOR was featured in the June 24 issue of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. 

Not only was referenced in an article called Occupy Romance by Rose Fox (plus a pic of the cover), it made the PW Top 10 list of Romance and Erotica for this fall. In fact, Storm Warrior is #5. 

To say I was gobsmacked is putting it lightly. How my book EVER got that kind of notice, I have no idea. I'm amazed, humbled, and grateful.

And just to put icing on the cake, today I learned of a starred review just released from Publishers Weekly that had me emptying the kleenex box:



Wonder touches Spokane Valley, Wash., and the life of veterinarian Morgan Edwards in Harper’s beautifully narrated foray into Celtic myth and legend. While realizing a lifelong dream of visiting Wales, the land of her ancestors, Morgan unknowingly sets in motion events that change her life. The adventures follow her home in the form of Rhys, a mysterious man who’s been under a curse since Roman times. 

Morgan must depend on words of wisdom from her past as she navigates the unknown paths of love and faith, and as she fights for her life. Rich with detail and accessible explanations of lore, the events unfold naturally. The romantic elements are slightly outweighed by the paranormal aspects, though the result is immensely satisfying with just a hint of spice.

Harper (Changeling Moon) provides excellent texture and depth with a touch of sincere empathy for animals, rounding out an already excellent novel. Agent: Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management. (Aug.)

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4778-0594-7

And how did this all start? For those of you who have been following me for a while (and bless every one of you for it), you might remember a few years ago when I published a short e-novella called A Leap of Knowing

I swear the characters "hounded" me ever after to write more --- the story was soooo much bigger than the little novella could do justice to. And I'm thrilled to be able to say I DID IT --- it took a while but at long last, this paranormal romance is finally the rich full-length novel it was always meant to be. And it's kicking off a whole new series!!!  At this very moment, I'm working on Book Two, Storm Bound.

About Storm Warrior:

Enslaved for millennia by the masters of the Welsh faery realm, the fierce Celtic warrior Rhys is doomed to wander the earth forever. But when a brave beauty unwittingly breaks the enchantment, he is drawn into a strange new world…and an all-consuming desire.

Sensible Morgan doesn’t believe in magic—until a mysterious being saves her from a fate worse than death, and life as she knows it changes forever. Now the man of her dreams has become flesh and blood, igniting a spark in Morgan’s soul which science cannot explain. 

But even a love that transcends time may not be strong enough to withstand the power of an ancient curse.

Book One in a new series by Dani Harper, this hot paranormal romance will be released August 6, 2013 by Montlake Romance.

Ebook or trade paperback or audio are now available for pre-order.

http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Warrior-The-Grim-Series/dp/147780594X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367591141&sr=8-1&keywords=storm+warrior+dani  

ARCs do not have
artwork on the cover

GIVEAWAYS 

I feel like celebrating and I just have to share with my wonderful readers. So I have not one, not two, but THREE signed paperback ARCs (advance readers copies) of Storm Warrior to give away. Three readers will win! 

Please note that ARCs don't have graphics on the cover, but I'll be sure to include postcards of the artwork for you and a friend.


THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
CONGRATS TO THE 3 WINNERS! 

Summer Fun Scavenger Hunt 2013 and STORM WARRIOR


Summer Fun Scavenger Hunt 2013


Find great authors and books in the Night Owl Reviews Summer Fun Scavenger Hunt!  
EASY-PEASY TO ENTER - Read book blurbs and fill in the blanks to enter to win awesome prize baskets!

Quick Links:

TWITTER HASHTAG - Twitter #NORSummerFun

RELEASE DAY IS AUG. 6, 2013

SQUEEE:

My August release, STORM WARRIOR, is one of the required stops of the Scavenger Hunt!!! 
I'm giving away a KINDLE PAPERWHITE and an e-copy of STORM WARRIOR to a lucky winner. 


So head on over to NIGHT OWL REVIEWS and start hunting!  Have fun!

Dani Harper

COVER REVEAL - STORM WARRIOR by Dani Harper


Enslaved for millennia by the masters of the Welsh faery realm, the fierce Celtic warrior Rhys is doomed to wander the earth forever. But when a brave beauty unwittingly breaks the enchantment, he is drawn into a strange new world…and an all-consuming desire.

Sensible Morgan doesn’t believe in magic—until a mysterious being saves her from a fate worse than death, and life as she knows it changes forever. Now the man of her dreams has become flesh and blood, igniting a spark in Morgan’s soul which science cannot explain. 

But even a love that transcends time may not be strong enough to withstand the power of an ancient curse.

Book One in a new series by Dani Harper, this hot paranormal romance will be released August 6, 2013.

http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Warrior-The-Grim-Series/dp/147780594X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367591141&sr=8-1&keywords=storm+warrior+dani  Ebook or trade paperback now available for pre-order.

I am SOOOO excited about this book. For those of you who have been following me for a while, you might remember a few years ago when I published a short novella called A Leap of Knowing. I swear the characters "hounded" me ever after to write more --- the story was soooo much bigger than the little novella could contain. And I'm thrilled to be able to say I DID IT --- it took a while but this paranormal romance is finally the rich full-length novel it was always meant to be. And it's kicking off a whole new series!!!




SHAMROCKS, CLOVERS AND LUCK


This post was first pubbed
in March 2012, but I just HAD
to share it again -- kind like
the decorations you drag
out of the closet every year!
When I was a kid, I used to hunt for four-leafed clovers in the belief that they brought good luck. I was unaware that one was only considered lucky if you found it by accident – the clover was useless if you looked for it on purpose! No wonder I didn’t get the pony I was hoping for….

It’s said that Eve carried a four-leafed clover out of the Garden of Eden (probably figuring that she and Adam were going to need all the help they could get). And the ancient Celts of Wales carried sprigs of clover as a charm against evil spirits. A four-leafed clover worn inside your shoe would lead you to either love or treasure! (If you put one in each shoe, did you find both?)

Druids esteemed the four-leafed clover as a source of protection, because holding one would allow you to see fairies and other supernatural creatures. A salve was sometimes made of four-leafed clovers and applied to the “third eye” area of the forehead, to bring out psychic abilities. Or the clovers might be sewn into a tiny bag and hung around the neck. This would reveal the fairy folk to the wearer – but it would only work once for each clover that was in the bag.

Common White Clover,
Trifolium Repens 
The four-leafed clover is a symbol of good luck in many countries, but is most associated with Ireland. The Irish claim that they have more of them growing there than anywhere else. Maybe, since both the Irish shamrock and four-leafed clovers are said to come from the same plant:  Common White Clover, also known as Dutch clover (Trifolium Repens). That’s right, it’s the same stuff that sometimes takes over the lawn on this side of the Atlantic.  True, there are some potted plants sold around March 17th that claim to be official shamrocks, but they’re usually oxalis or wood sorrel. Pretty, but apparently not brimming with good fortune.

St. Patrick with shamrock
St. Patrick made the shamrock famous by taking an ordinary clover leaf (which has just three leaves normally) and using it as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This is a prime example of Christianity adopting – and changing – the symbols of pagan faiths. The three leaves had previously been known by the Celts as the three phases of the Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Crone!

So if the three-leafed “shamrock” (clover) came to represent the Christian Trinity, what did the four-leafed clover come to mean? Early Christians saw the four leaves as creating the sign of the cross. Some maintained that the fourth leaf stood for God’s grace and it was a sign of favor if you found one. Others have named the four leaves as Faith, Hope, Love and Luck.

21-leafed clover
So why are there four-leafed clovers when clover naturally has three leaves? Long thought to be a simple plant mutation, scientists have now found a recessive gene for the anomoly. In fact, there are no known limits as to how many leaves a clover can have. According to Guinness, the world record for the most leaves on a clover stem has been held by Shigeo Obara of Japan since 2002 when he discovered a clover with 18 leaves. He bested his record a few years later with a 21-leafed clover. And in 2009, he was credited with finding a clover with no less than 56 leaves!!!

How lucky is a clover with more than four leaves? In Ireland and a few other places, it’s said that it brings nothing but bad luck. In other places, there’s a different meaning for each clover according to leaf number:
     Two-leafed clover = love
     Four-leafed clover = luck 
     Five-leafed clover = attracts wealth
     Six-leafed clover = fame
     Seven-leafed clover = long life

Clovers with more than the standard three leaves are said to be lucky because they’re rare, and estimates place them at about one in 10,000 when naturally grown. They’re not evenly distributed, though – some patches of clover produce many of them (I found dozens in my yard as a kid), and others grow very few of the multi-leafed variety. 

Because the four-leafed clover is such a well-known symbol of good fortune, an entire industry has sprung up around them. You can buy genuine four-leafed clovers pressed between glass, embedded in resin, made into jewelry or just about anything you can think of – and to do it, some horticulturalists have refined the clover plant using the newly-discovered genes. In their specialized plots, four-leafed clovers occur about once in every 41 plants! How much luck these contain, however, is anyone’s guess.

One last word of advice:
  Never iron a four-leafed clover. You don’t want to press your luck! 

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How to Have a Supernatural Valentine's Day - part of the "LOVE IS IN THE AIR GIVEAWAY HOP"

For some reason, I've just never been able to get into traditional Valentine mode. Maybe it's a rogue gene, the same DNA that makes me love Halloween more than Christmas. Last Valentine's Day, I brought you ghost stories, five tragic tales of love gone terribly wrong. (http://waypastnormal.blogspot.com/2012/02/paranormal-valentine-5-ghost-stories.html)

This year, I thought I'd offer suggestions on How to have a Supernatural Valentine's Day. Share these activities with your significant other, your BFF, your mom, or your dog, but if you love the paranormal, you've GOT to do at least one of these!

1.  Here's the easiest one first -- Have a horror movie marathon, but not the slasher flick kind. I recommend movies that get under your skin and creep you out, especially if they hit you with a twist that chills you to the marrow. My favs of this type are The Skeleton Key (2007), Shutter (2008), and The Ring (2002). 

Prefer a straight-out monster flick? Go with a King Kong marathon -- there are no less than 7 incarnations of this movie (My fav is the 2005 version, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Naomi Watts and Jack Black). After all, it IS a ginormous love story! 

2.  Visit an ultra-creepy museum together. What constitutes such a place depends on what's most likely to keep you awake at night. As a kid I was afraid of ventriloquist dummies -- and I still give them a wary eye. Imagine being surrounded by over 700 of them, all staring and silent, at Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. The only one of its kind in the world, there are dummies dating all the way back to the early 1800s, dummies with real teeth and real hair, and four dummies who washed ashore in a trunk after their ventriloquist died in a shipwreck off the coast of Texas in 1908. http://venthavenmuseum.com/ 

Or you could venture to the Mutter Museum (at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia) -- a display of human anatomy both normal and very, very abnormal. Think things in fluid-filled jars and countless skeletons.... Not for the squeamish!

3. Go on a supernatural walking tour as a couple. Almost every major city boasts at least one of these, and some have several. One such tour, offered by the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, includes a cemetery visit, highlighted by the tomb of Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Known for her kindness, people have paid homage to her and asked for favors since her death in 1881. The tour also offers an opportunity to meet a modern-day Voodoo priest or priestess (live). http://www.voodoomuseum.com

Other tours include the San Francisco Ghost Tour , Occult New York: A Manhattan Walking Tour , Memphis Ghost Tours .... you get the picture. Most last from one to three hours as your host shows you sites of murder, mayhem and tragedy.

4.  Spend some quality time together in a site rumored to be haunted. The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California, is one such place. Stories abound of strange sounds and sightings in and around the decommissioned aircraft carrier -- including more than a few ghosts of sailors and soldiers. Visitors are allowed to take self-guided tours. http://www.uss-hornet.org/ 

The Soldier's National Museum is said to be the most haunted place in the most haunted city in America -- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The museum houses a large collection of Civil War artifacts, but the building itself started life as the Soldier's National Orphan Homestead. Stories abound of mistreated and even murdered children. Adding to the unrest: a number of unmarked graves of Union soldiers on the site.  https://gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com/soldiers-national-museum/

5. For something romantic AND paranormal -- what about a stay at a haunted bed and breakfast? The Red Garter in Williams, Arizona, has had many roles over the years -- opium den, Chinese restaurant, boarding house and saloon, but it's most famous for its time as a bordello. 

The old building was completely renovated and restored in the 1990s, but ghostly incidents began even before it reopened as a hotel and bakery. Guests have reported their beds being shaken or bounced, or the sensation of someone sitting on the mattress beside them. Footsteps have been heard on the vacant staircase and doorknobs have been rattled when there is no one in the hallway. A few guests have reported seeing the ghost of a beautiful young woman, pacing the floor in their room before suddenly disappearing. redgarter.com/the_red_garter_bed_and_bakery.html



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LOVE IS IN THE AIR GIVEAWAY HOP

February 7 to February 14, 2013




Over 100 authors and bloggers are participating, each hosting a giveaway on their own site. You'll find the complete Linky List to all of the sites posted below.


Dani's Giveaway is now CLOSED




Congrats to the winner, MARY K. Mary's name was drawn at random from the comments and she'll be receiving the following goodies:

The winner will be able to have a quiet but spine-tingling evening at home -- a paperback copy of HAUNTED AMERICA by Michael Norman and Beth Scott (featuring a grand tour of ghostly hauntings throughout the U.S. and Canada). Plus you can brew a pot of one of my favorite coffees -- if the book fails to keep you awake, this definitely will. It's called Dead Man's Reach! And of COURSE, there's chocolate involved - "Twilight Delight"!


I'll be choosing a name at random from the comments on February 15th. 

Good luck everyone!