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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ALL ABOUT FAERIES - the world of the Grim Series

As you may know, my Grim Series is bringing ancient Faery legends into modern-day America. I'm always excited to share new details about the Fae world that exists in my stories -- and which is based on authentic Welsh and Celtic legends.

I'm in the middle of a BLOG TOUR right now, to promote my new release STORM WARNED, and it's provided a perfect opportunity to talk more about Faeries. Check out the EIGHT sites below, each of which feature a different post I've written about Fae creatures, or how to deal with the Fae -- or why you should avoid them if you can!

Some of the recent articles still have giveaways running - be sure and enter if they do. Other posts will be published this week and next.

Topic 1: The Faery Pooka
April 1 - Guest Post by Dani Harper at THE BOOK NYMPHO 
Topic 2: The Faery Grim
April 2 - Guest post by Dani Harper at MY BOOKISH WAYS
Topic 3: Avoiding the Fae 
April 2 - Guest post by Dani Harper at ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY
Topic 4: Faery 101 - Who are the Tylwyth Teg? 
April 2 - Guest post by Dani Harper at ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY 
Topic 5: Why and How to Repel Faeries 
April 6 - Guest post by Dani Harper at WICKED LIL PIXIE 
Topic 6: 10 Things You Should Know About Faeries 
April 7 - Guest post by Dani Harper at THE VAMPIRE BOOK CLUB www.vampirebookclub.net
Topic 7:  The Faery Kelpie
April 8 - Guest post by Dani Harper at PARANORMAL HAVEN 
Topic 8: About Faeries
April 10 - Guest post by Dani Harper at FANGS WANDS AND FAIRY DUST 

Storm Warned is now available in Kindle, paperback and audio on Amazon


Not only is it the Chinese Year of the Sheep (Feb 19, 2015 to Feb 7, 2016), but it's the birthday of my favorite blog:


This eclectic site reviews paranormal, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, romance, young adult, aliens -- you name it, they're either reading it or watching it! You'll find reviews of movies, concerts, comics, manga, anime and much more, including interviews of authors, directors and actors.

I Smell Sheep is 5 years old today! And to celebrate this milestone, I'm reposting my blog from a few years ago abou


In Guangzhou, China, there is a statue commemorating the Five Sheep. It is said that the people used to eat only fish, until five gods came to earth riding on five sheep. Each sheep was a different color and held an ear of rice in its mouth.  The gods instructed the people to plant the rice and blessed the city against famine. The gods flew back to the sky but the sheep remained standing until they became stones. Guangzhou is nicknamed “Five Sheep City”, and all sheep are believed to be lucky.

In Greek mythology, Eros (Cupid) fell in love with the mortal Psyche but Psyche had to win over his mother, the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche’s beauty and commanded her to perform a number of impossible tasks --- and one of them was to obtain a snippet of fleece from every member of a certain flock of sheep. Of course, this was not an ordinary flock. They were the wild Meloi Khyseoi, vicious golden-fleeced sheep with sharp horns and venomous bites!  Fortunately, the spirit of the river spoke to Psyche and told her that the sheep were only violent in the heat of the day. Following the river’s instructions, Psyche waited until the day grew cooler and the sheep drowsed in the shade. She then was able to obtain the fleece without being harmed.

On the island of Crete, the villages around Mount Psiloritis (now Mount Idi) were said to raise sheep with golden teeth. The people believed that there were such rich deposits of gold in the mountain that the grasses drew gold from the soil, and when the sheep ate the grass, the gold was deposited on their teeth. A monk first recorded the phenomenon in 1415. The real cause turned out to be a plant called nevrida, which the sheep eat in great quantity. Lambs are born with white teeth, and the teeth begin to turn yellow then deep gold as the animal ages. It takes quite a long time for the process, and when the teeth finally become golden, it’s time to butcher that particular sheep.
A Crow legend tells of a man possessed by evil spirits who tries to kill his stepson by pushing him over a cliff. The young man is saved by seven mighty bighorn sheep.  The leader of the sheep is Big Metal and he re-names the boy Big Iron. The seven sheep grant him gifts of power and wisdom, surefootedness and keen eyesight. Big Iron returns to his village with knowledge for the people, such as how to build a sweat lodge. He also carried the message that the Crow people would survive only so long as the river winding out of the mountains is known as the Bighorn River. Big Iron became a strong and wise man who lived a long life. He asked to be buried next to the Bighorn River so he could be close to the seven mighty sheep in the afterlife.

Hades was the Greek god of the underworld and also of wealth. Black sheep were sacred to him. He was worshipped but seldom petitioned (in the belief that he could not be swayed) but occasionally mortals would make prayers and bang on the ground to make sure that Hades heard them. They sacrificed black sheep (always at night) and allowed their blood to flow into pits dug into the ground in the belief that it would then reach Hades. Whoever offered the sacrifice however had to turn his face away in case he caught a glimpse of the underworld god. Every hundred years on April 30, a festival was held in honor of Hades, and black sheep and other black animals would be in high demand.

The story of the Golden Fleece was told since at least 800 BC, and probably earlier. The Greek king Athamas was said to have married Nephele, a cloud nymph, and together they had twins, a boy and a girl, Phrixus and Helle. But Athamas was unfaithful. He sired children with a mortal woman, Ino, and then divorced Nephele so he could marry Ino instead. Nephele was cast out of Athamas’ court, but he kept her children. Ino hated the stepchildren and plotted to kill them. Before she could do so, Nephele sent a flying ram with golden fleece that carried her children away. Sadly, Helles fell off and was drowned in the sea, but Phrixus made it to safety. He married the daughter of a king, and gave the king the sheared golden fleece of the ram as a gift. This is the same fleece that Jason and the Argonauts would later obtain. Incidentally, the constellation and zodiac sign Aries represents the golden flying ram that rescued Nephele’s children.

An Irish tale tells of King Fiachna, who was forced to make war upon King Lochlann. He took ten battalions into battle, and slew 300 of Lochlann’s men. But venomous sheep were released from Lochlann’s tent. These sheep slew 300 of Fiachna’s warriors each day. They caused immense slaughter and terror and no one could stand against them. Finally, Fiachna’s entire army was forced to climb the trees of the forest and remain in their branches, while the sheep raged on the ground below, bleating terribly and tearing up the ground. Embarrassed by his army’s plight, King Fiachna was determined to climb down and take on the sheep alone, but a stranger came along with a monstrous and magical dog. The creature killed every one of the savage sheep at its master’s command. The stranger then ordered Fiachna to take over the kingdom of Lochlann, which he did.

In modern times, the most famous sheep in the world was likely Shrek, a Merino in New Zealand that evaded shearing for six years by hiding in caves. He was finally captured in 2004 and his wool was sheared on national television. The wool weighed an amazing 60 pounds – most Merino fleeces are about 10 to 20 pounds at the most. Shrek became a celebrity, getting to meet the prime minister of New Zealand and promoting a children’s charity. Shrek celebrated his 10thbirthday with a fundraising stunt for the charity – he was shorn on top of an iceberg that was floating off the coast of New Zealand at the time, wearing special crampons on his feet so he could walk without slipping. Shrek lived to the ripe old age of 17, which is said to be 90 in human years.

Superstitions About Love --- and a Giveaway

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

Apples and love

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

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

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

Four-leaf clovers 

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

Dreams ... and St. Andrew!

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

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

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

Birds and love

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a thoughtful and loving February!

Dani Harper

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