Ensuring Good Fortune for 2016 - Tradition of the First Footer

While most folks may be thinking about what to wear, what to serve (and in my case, what to watch on TV!) for the advent of 2016, some will be taking steps to ensure their luck for the new year. 

For instance, once the clock strikes midnight and the new year arrives, did you know it's often considered bad luck for anyone to leave the house? (Not even to take out the garbage and the empties!) 

In Ireland, it's luckiest to have a handsome,
dark-haired man enter your door after midnight!
Instead, many people still wait for the “first footer” to arrive – the very first person to cross the threshold and enter your home in the New Year. Whoever that first footer is will influence your luck for the next twelve months! 

This belief in the importance of the "first footer" is found in a surprising number of cultures all over the globe! For maximum good luck in Ireland, a dark-haired man should be first through the door. If he’s handsome and single, so much the better. And it’s really lucky if he arrives on a horse! (I'd have story material for the whole year after an entrance like that!) 

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

Bread and salt are traditional
gifts to ensure good luck.
As with many first footer traditions, the man should bring a few symbolic gifts with him such as:

      a loaf of bread
      a bag or bowl of salt 
      a lump of coal or peat for the fire
      a branch of evergreen
      some silver coins

Ideally, the first footer will make his way through the entire house and then leave by a different door. (And yes, the first footer may well have more than one house to visit!)

Sorry - red heads may have to
wait to get in!
So who wouldn't make a good first footer? In some parts of the British Isles, it was considered very bad luck for your first visitor after midnight to be a woman! A fair-haired man wasn't always welcome either  too much like the Viking invaders of old. Other first footer rejects included people with red hair, doctors, ministers, thieves, grave-diggers, or anyone with crossed eyes or flat feet!

Also on the "no" list was anyone whose eyebrows met in the middle of their forehead – it was thought to be a sign of being a werewolf! (The Macleod family from my Changeling series would find this rather insulting.) Any such visitors would be shooed away from the doorstep or made to wait until someone more desirable had entered the house first.  

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

My favorite "first footer" tradition of all is said to come from the southern United States. The sex of the first visitor through the door doesn't influence prosperity, but is said to shape the balance of power in a marriage for the coming year! If a man enters, then the husband will have more power. If it's a woman, the wife will be the more powerful partner. (As for myself, I think I'd invite a couple who had been happily married for many years to step over the threshold at the same time. I think that would be the luckiest thing of all!)

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

Dani Harper


Don't miss a single giveaway! 
Links to ALL the participating sites are at the bottom
of this post
Many thanks to Herding Cats and Burning Soup for this great holiday hop! They asked the participants to talk about the TREATS we like, so here goes...

Chocolate, coffee, cinnamon buns ... as much as I adore these types of treats, they just can't compare to my ultimate favorite: BOOKS!

Ask my hubs, he'll tell you I'm a certified bookaholic. Our Amazon account sends me Christmas cards. My Kindle is in imminent danger of exploding, and I have a TBR pile of paperbacks on my nightstand that towers over my bed and will someday crush me in my sleep...
And still I can't resist another book.
Part of it is probably that I always have more than one book on the go, which leaves me with a compulsive need to be surrounded by an abundance of reading material! (This will definitely happen if that TBR piles tips...)

Right now, I'm reading the latest from JR Ward, BLOOD KISS (Book 1 of the Black Dagger Legacy). Sigh. I love me some BDB, and it's a treat to return to this world and the characters I love so hard -- plus meet new ones. 

BLOOD KISS: Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself...be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong.

I'm also reading another just-released novel, LUCKY DEVIL by Cat Miller. I confess, I have a soft spot for stories set in Vegas!

LUCKY DEVIL: In Sin City, Luc Christianson is the king of all things wicked. A ruthless hotel and casino owner, he has an aversion to gamblers who risk more than they can afford to lose. 
Everly Parker is risking it all. After her father wagers the family cattle ranch on a game of cards and loses, it's up to Everly to find a way to get it back.

For my Christmas Treats Hop Giveaway, I'm offering one lucky winner 3 Kindle ebooks! The two that I'm reading right now, plus a copy of my own new paranormal release, THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

A woman who talks to ghosts.
A man mistaken for dead.
An ancient evil that stalks them both.

Writer Kerri Tollbrook spends her free time counseling the newly departed, but the tall, dark and handsome spirit she meets at the shopping mall claims he's not dead. Is he just in denial? Or is something more sinister at work?

Firefighter Galen McAllister has felt like The Invisible Man ever since a malicious spell separated him from his still-living body. Kerri is the first person he's met who can actually see him. Now if only he can get her to listen ... because the nightmare creature that trapped him between two worlds is far from finished!


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Stop by each blog for a chance to win fabulous books and gifties for the Holidays!


NIGHT OWL REVIEWS has done it again! 
Just in time for the holiday season, 
they're bringing us the 
and I get to be one of the sponsors! WOOT!

Readers will be able to discover 
some great new reads AND enter to 
win one of several Amazon Gift Cards! 

Nov 20th - Dec 17th

Easy-peasy to enter -- 
Just visit each author's page and 
read a book blurb. 
On the entry form, you'll see a sentence 
from the same blurb that is missing a word
Fill in the word! That's all!

Make sure to check out my new Christmas PNR along the way - The Holiday Spirit
My newest release is part of the hunt!


Total of $1300 worth of gift cards up for grabs! 

Grand Prize is a 

$100 Amazon Gift Card! 

All the winners will be announced 

on the evening of Dec 21st.

Ready to get started? 
Click on the contest graphic above or go to https://www.nightowlreviews.com/V5/Blog/Articles/Winter-by-Wonderland-2015

Dani's guesting at Cat Miller's Reveal Party! Authors and giveaways!

If you're in the mood for some fun, mark Cat Miller's reveal party for "Lucky Devil" on your calendar. Party down with about a dozen guest authors (including me!). Excerpts, games, and giveaways! You could even win a Kindle Paperwhite!

Day: Tuesday, November 17

Time: 5:30pm to 10:30pm Eastern Time (2:30pm to 7:30pm Pacific Time)

Location: Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1516640815322085/


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Goodreads Giveaway for THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

From November 11 to 19th, you can enter to win a paperback copy of The Holiday Spirit!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Holiday Spirit by Dani Harper

The Holiday Spirit

by Dani Harper

Giveaway ends November 19, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Dani's guesting at Shanna Hatfield's COWBOYS & CHRISTMAS Release Party


You might not suspect it by the stories I've written so far, but I have a secret love for cowboys, history, and the West, both past and present --- and those topics just happen to be author Shanna Hatfield's specialty. I'll be throwing my paranormal hat into the rodeo, so to speak, as a guest author at her 2nd annual Cowboys and Christmas Release Party! (This is a repeat invitation for me -- I must have behaved myself last year!)

Giveaways, Games, Guest Authors, and Fun!

Time:  10:00am - 2:00pm Pacific Time, (1:00pm - 5pm Eastern Time)

Date:  Thursday, November 12, 2015

Location:  Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1641943672739274/

PS - This event also kick-starts the second annual promotion to raise funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund!

Amazon Giveaway: win a paperback copy of THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT!

Can Yuletide magic help a sexy ghost who says he's not dead?

Enter to win THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT by Dani Harper

Five paperback copies are up for grabs! 

EXCERPT from The Holiday Spirit:

A line from one of Kerri's own novels sprang to mind: People, people all around, and not a soul to see me... What was it like to be Galen McAllister? Knowing that he wasn't dead and helpless to do anything about it. Trapped in a bizarre limbo for nearly a year and, for all he knew, it was never going to end. 

Ghosts could communicate with each other if they wanted to ... but he had never realized he had that option. Only the strongest of souls could withstand that kind of isolation, could stand up to the ongoing fear and uncertainty. 

I'd be terrified, she thought. Completely and totally terrified. Her eyes teared up at the thought and her hand slid across the table towards his. Kerri wanted so much to connect with him in some tangible way, but whether it was to comfort him or to comfort herself in that moment, she couldn't say. It wasn't possible of course. Or so she thought until he pushed his hand forward, palm down, so that his fingertips met hers-

Warmth flooded through her hand, like soft rays from the early morning sun in her summer garden, sweet and gentle. The sensation traveled partway up her arm before gradually receding until only her fingertips were warm where they appeared to touch Galen's.

She smiled and left them there.

"So why do you do it?" he asked. "Why visit with ghosts? I can't imagine that life-coaching the dead pays very well."

"It's not a job, silly," she said. "It's called respecting the gift I've been given. They need my help, and I have a responsibility to do what I can. That's what I learned from my family, and I believe it. You know how everyone talks about following your passion? Well, I feel strongly about the work that I do with spirits-it's very rewarding-and I also love writing. How many people get to have two passions they can follow at the same time?"

Galen nodded, but she could tell by the thoughtful furrow in his brow (as best as she could see it under his hood) that he wasn't finished asking questions.

"If you feel so strongly, why were you hesitant to tell me about being a ghost consultant?"

"A ghost consultant." Kerri laughed a little. "I like that. I'll have to put it on my business cards."

"Jesus, you have business cards for this too?"

"Of course not, I'm just teasing you. I do have cards, but only for my career as a writer. Ghosts hardly need business cards. They have a grapevine that makes the Internet look like a cave painting. That's how they find me."

"Okay, back to my question: why didn't you want to tell me? You talked about ghosts when you first met me, but then you put me off twice when I asked about Everett's secretarial duties."

Kerri sighed. "I talked to you quite freely about ghosts because I thought you were one! For Pete's sake, I don't go around advertising my ability. Honestly, would you have believed me before this happened to you?"

"No, not at first. But I'd like to think I'd have tried. I know I would at least have respected that you believed it. By the way, your dinner is getting cold."

She poked a fork into her food and discovered he was right, but resolved to eat it anyway. She just didn't have the energy to get out of the chair and ferry the Chicken Broccoli Alfredo back to the microwave. But Galen scooped up the dish and did it for her. She watched as he pressed buttons and a half beat later, the numbers appeared and the microwave started. How much had he practiced in order to perfect his unique abilities?

"Thank you," she said. "I have to admit that I'm really tired. And I should have asked if it would bother you if I eat in front of you."

"It would bother me more if you didn't eat, especially after I just slaved over a hot microwave for thirty seconds." He winked at her. "Don't worry about me. I can't smell the food, so it's a lot like looking at a television commercial."

"I don't know. Those things sure make me hungry. Especially the ads that come on late at night."

"Fast food joints know that your resistance is down after dark. Everything looks more appealing then."

Maybe I need to keep that in mind, she thought. Because Galen certainly looked appealing, in more ways than one.

Waldo the Pug plays an important role in The Holiday Spirit!

Rockin' Reads Giveaway Hop Sept. 23rd-30th - Dani Harper


You might have noticed that I absolutely ADORE blog hops, and Herding Cats and Burning Soup puts together some great ones.  Seventy-six authors are participating in Rockin' Reads, so make sure you check the Linky List at the bottom of this post.

I've been really looking forward to this hop so I could tell you about a couple of books that rocked my world this year.

I love the gorgeous cover too!
Tops on my list is "IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT" by Adrienne Wilder. If I said that this was M/M romance at its very best, it still would be faint praise because the story is SO MUCH MORE. It's truly profound on so many levels. The difficulties and challenges faced by the main characters are not your run-of-the-mill situations. I ached for the characters, and found new and unexpected depths within myself even as the protagonist, Grant, did. 

Every character in the book lived and breathed, and even the setting was a character all on its own. I finished the book feeling like I knew them all intimately. (BTW, if it's sex you're looking for, the passion between these pages will definitely blow your socks off -- and yet it's not there for its own sake. The love scenes further the relationship and the story.) 

I read the story as an ebook, but HAD to buy the paperback. This novel has a permanent place on my honorary keeper shelf because Adrienne Wilder has created a classic.

Find "In the Absence of Light" HERE on Amazon.

There are a couple of different covers
now but this one is my favorite.

My second recommendation is "SHIVER" (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book One) by Maggie Stiefvater. I have no idea how I managed to miss this when it first came out, but I'm making up for it now. 

This YA novel by a young writer absolutely stunned me into speechlessness! Here's what I wrote on Goodreads: "Simple. Beautiful. Perfect. Shiver captivated me from the very first page." I literally had no other words to offer. Even now, the best I can come up with is, I WISH I HAD WRITTEN IT.
If you love shifters, you'll want to experience this book for yourself.

Find "Shiver" HERE on Amazon.

Kindle ebook + Paperback
on September 29th
On the subject of books, I'm proud to announce the imminent release of my newest paranormal romance, a Christmas ghost story titled "THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT". Here's the blurb:

All she wants for Christmas is a ghost... 

Writer Kerri Tollbrook spends her free time counseling the newly departed, but the tall, dark and handsome spirit she meets at the shopping mall claims he’s not dead. Is he just in denial? Or is something more sinister at work? 

Firefighter Galen McAllister has felt like The Invisible Man ever since a malicious spell separated him from his still-living body. Kerri is the first person he's met who can actually see him. Now if only he can get her to listen … because the nightmare creature that trapped him between two worlds is far from finished!

The novel comes out on September 29th, and will be available on Amazon HERE in Kindle ebook and paperback. 


One lucky winner will win 3 Kindle ebooks, comprised of both "In the Absence of Light" and "Shiver" PLUS the ebook of my brand new PNR release, "The Holiday Spirit", which comes out on Sept. 29th. 

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THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT RETURNS SEPT. 29TH as a full-length novel --- bigger, better, badder!

Once upon a time I wrote a short story titled The Holiday Spirit. At less than 20,000 words, it barely qualified as a novella. I had a great deal of fun creating it, though, and was thrilled when Cobblestone Press included it in their Twelve Days of Christmas collection for 2008. Though it was only available as an eBook at a time when electronic books hadn’t yet hit their stride, this little paranormal romance received some wonderful reviews.

When The Holiday Spirit finished its contract, I foolishly thought that I was done with it. Busy writing other things for other contracts, I laid my Christmas ghost story to rest on an old external hard drive that quickly gathered dust. However, the characters refused to lie quiet! They’ve literally haunted me for a very long time, poking and prodding me to revisit this project.

In the fall of 2014, after I finished writing Storm Warned (Book 3 of my Grim Series), I felt the time was finally right. I was “between books” for a couple of months, and thought that The Holiday Spirit would be a simple and fun project. I planned its launch for the 2014 Christmas season, and even booked the ads. I mean, all the little story needed was a careful re-edit, a few updates, and it would be ready for re-release, right?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I realized much too late that I wasn’t in charge of this story at all: my characters were! And they had a whole lot more to tell. What was once a small novella quickly tripled in size–and then grew even more! The entire project was rewritten from the ground up, with brand new scenes and details that surprised and delighted my beta readers who were familiar with the earlier version. (Believe me when I tell you that no one was more surprised than I was!)

The final result is definitely a bigger, better, badder read! To the readers who discovered and enjoyed the original–I think you’ll like the novel version even more! To those who enjoy a ghostly romance or a holiday paranormal with a fresh twist, this just might be what you’re looking for.

A huge THANK YOU to all of my wonderful readers who have been so patient and understanding throughout this unintentionally lengthy project.

And to my cast of characters who hijacked the story – you can undo the duct tape and the rope now…

Sincerely, Dani Harper

The book will be available in ebook and paperback. The ebook can be pre-ordered right now on Amazon. The paperback will be ready in time for the release day!

Don't miss the fun and giveaways at the Facebook party!

Who's your FAVORITE HEROINE? A giveaway hop!

WELCOME to the 
Favorite Heroines 
Giveaway Hop
hosted by 
Herding Cats and Burning Soup 

It's no secret who my Number One Heroine is - Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hands down. Over the years, my list has expanded to include a few more awesome female characters, but Buffy Summers tops them all.

I watched the TV show from series premiere to series finale with my daughters -- we never missed a single episode in its 7-year run. As Buffy learned and grew, so did we! She didn't have all the answers. She made mistakes. She had to make hard and terrible choices in order to do the right thing, the ethical thing, the moral thing. And it always came at enormous personal cost to her, required a great deal of sacrifice.

It often reminded me of Spock's Vulcan philosophy: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few --- or the one.” Buffy Summers was always the one it seemed.  The world was saved many times over, but remained largely unaware of her efforts, or the efforts of her loyal friends. No thanks, no fame, no glory. It was an unforgettable lesson in what true heroism is, and also a slice of reality: there is always a price to be paid, even when you're doing something good.


PS - After the TV series ended, Dark Horse Comics continued the storyline, with some writing and input from Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon (you might remember him from a little movie franchise called The Avengers...). The Buffyverse is alive and well today, and the latest issue just came out on June 17th: "Old Demons, Part One".  

The character of Buffy Summers continues to inspire us all to be better than we are in real life. And in my writing life, I know that I've been inspired to create stronger heroines in my stories because of her.

One of my own favorite characters to date has been Caris Dillwyn, the heroine of my latest release, Storm Warned. An unfeeling Faery kidnaps this young woman, robbing her of her family, her home, and all that she holds dear, More, she is forced to serve the Fae as a Grim, a messenger of death. Through it all, she retains her humanity. And later, when she meets up with the irresistable Liam Cole, she refuses to give up her sense of self, and the things that she's passionate about.

Of course I have a giveaway - and there are TWO prizes for one lucky winner. Check it out below.
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Kick off your summer right!

Once again I have the privilege of being one of the sponsors of the
Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt

Huge thanks to Night Owl Reviews for hosting this awesome event!

You won't want to miss out on this one. It's easy and fun to enter - and the prizes are plentiful.

100 Amazon Gift Cards are up for grabs!

The Grand Prize is a $250 Amazon Gift Card!

Runs from June 12 to July 3, 2015.

Enter Now at: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-June-2015

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SUMMER VACATION - According to my Grim characters, Rhys and Ranyon!

My Grim Series is bringing ancient faery legends to modern-day America. 

Rhys and Morgan are hero and heroine of the first book, STORM WARRIORRanyon is a small fae creature (with an enormous personality) called an ellyll

All turn up again in Book 2, STORMBOUND, along with new characters, Aidan and Brooke, and many more. 

And Ranyon, as usual, nearly stole the show in newly released Book Three, STORM WARNED.

So what if someone who'd never even heard of a coffee break suddenly had to take a SUMMER VACATION?  Check out the following conversation between Rhys and Ranyon....

RHYS:  My name is Rhys, and I’ve had over two millennia of experience in the human world above and the faery realm beneath, but I’ve never journeyed on a “vacation” before.

RANYON:  And ya wouldn’t be now, save your good wife says you have to.

RHYS:  *whispering* You didn’t need to tell them that part.

RANYON:  Of course I did, ya twpsyn. Every human male likes to pretend everything’s his very own idea. Morgan should get the glory for finally getting you away from yer farm. Ya need yer mind expanded.

RHYS:  My mind is fine and well, thanks. And when did you become such an expert on vacations?

RANYON:  Leo and I traveled to see the Blue Jays in Toronto last summer, remember? What a brammer of a time we had!

RHYS:  That’s because you love baseball more than food or drink.

RANYON:  Oh, but the food and drink were tasty too. Leo got these great huge pretzels and –

RHYS:  Morgan has something very different in mind. There’s no baseball where we’re going.

RANYON:  None at all? Surely there’s a sport o’ some kind!

RHYS:  Swimming, she says, but only because it’s on an island.

RANYON:  *horrified* Ya mean yer gonna get yerself wet on purpose?

RHYS:  You forget, ’twas my own people, the Celts, who invented soap. And I went swimming often as a boy. It’s fun, and Morgan says the water is clear as the sky and warm as a bathtub.

RANYON:  *shudders*  I suppose next you’ll be tellin’ me there’s no beer!

RHYS:  I’m not sure about beer. She showed me pictures of strong drinks inside big prickly fruits, with strange little umbrellas in them.

RANYON:  Whatever are the umbrellas for? You don’t have to get wet while you drink, do you?

RHYS:  I don’t know. But I promised to try the drinks for her sake. And to look at the fish. She says there’s hundreds of beautiful fish to be seen in the waters.

RANYON:  *counting off on his twiggy fingers*  No baseball, no beer, yer gettin’ wet and yer lookin’ at fish?  I won’t be going with ya, if that’s yer idea of a good time.

RHYS:  You’re not invited to go with us, not this time. Morgan calls this a “romantic retreat”. It’s only for couples.

RANYON:  Oh, I get it. Yer gonna be all dovey and cooey. *makes a face* Well, human females love that, and yours deserves naught but the best, even if that means fishy water and little umbrellas. She’s been more than brave, what with all the faery troubles she’s been through, and goddess knows what perils yet to come to us. We were lucky to escape with our lives that last time.

RHYS:  Aye, I wish I hadn’t brought such danger to her doorstep. So it’s more for her sake that I’m agreeing to this vacation.

RANYON:  And are Aidan and Brooke going on this lovers’ journey as well?

RHYS:  Nay, they’ll be caring for the horses on our farm. But they have plans of their own while they’re there. Camping, they say, in the little stand of trees in the back pasture.

RANYON:  Outside? But you have a fine dry house! And ’tis mortal danger to sleep outside with the Fae about. You’ve still got all the charms that I made you?

RHYS:  Aye, on every wall and roof and fencepost. I’d never take them down, not with the Wild Hunt roaming the countryside. Aidan doesn’t like the idea of spending the night outdoors any more than you do, but he has faith in Brooke. She’s a powerful witch, and I know she’ll take precautions. She says she used to do a lot of camping with her friends when she was young; that it’s something done for fun. People tell ghost stories and roast hotdogs and –

RANYON:  Hotdogs, ya say? Like at the ballpark?

RHYS:  Aye, that seems to be an important part of the custom. And there’s marsh candies too, some sweet white things that you toast on a stick over a fire.

RANYON:  Well, now yer talkin’. It’s a pretty big farm you have, lots of work to be done, and animals to be looked after. I’m sure Aidan and Brooke will be needin’ my help. And besides, they might need a little extra magic to keep the dark Fae at bay.

RHYS:  *putting his hand on the ellyll’s shoulder* That would bring me much peace of mind while I attend this vacation.

RANYON:  One thing you could do for me, though…

RHYS:  What’s that?

RANYON:  Bring me one of those little umbrellas, will ya? I think I can make a charm with one.


Wishing you a wonderful summer, whatever your plans may be! And don't forget to enter my summer giveaway below! Runs from June 1st to 8th, 2015, and open to USA, Canada, and UK. Winner gets their choice of an ebook from my backlist, plus some little paper umbrellas to use in summer drinks or to bribe Ranyon with!

Dani Harper

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