The Beto-beto-san

geta

geta (photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

If you’ve read Kitsune-Mochi, you might remember a scene where Murame hears footsteps trailing her down a mountain? That’s the beto-beto-san, named onomatopoeiatically for the beto-beto sound of walking in wooden geta on stone.

Susan Spann, author of the Shinobi mysteries, talks today on Murder is Everywhere about her real life brush with beto-beto-san during a research trip in Japan.

Just remember, the beto-beto-san is a mischievous prankster but generally not dangerous, and as with so many Japanese youkai you can get safely away by being polite. Take care and mind your manners!

Background: Loki & the Gods’ Gifts

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background

When you’re working with two full mythologies, there are a lot of tidbits to include that just don’t get the screen time for full explanations. There are a lot of these “Easter eggs” hidden in The Songweaver’s Vow, and I’ll have a whole pile of them to share — in March. (Yes, in March, because some of them would be spoilerific, and we don’t need to revisit exactly how I feel about spoilers, do we, hmmm?)

But here’s a snack to hold you over. Continue reading

Santa Dragon is here!

a fantastical ChristmasIt’s nearly Christmas!

Today I’m giving away a complete set of the Kitsune Tales (thus far) for the Fellowship of Fantasy’s Santa Dragon tour. Continue reading

The Mysterious Magi: Who Were They?

Roman mosaic in Ravenna, showing Magi in Parthian dress

6th century Roman mosaic in Ravenna, showing Magi in Parthian dress

Today’s post is a lot of historical background, much of it research for my book So To Honor Him, put together to explain a story you’ve probably heard. If you’re into history and mystery-solving, come along with me. (Stay close; we’re going to go through a lot of material.)

We’re going to talk about the Magi, or the Wise Men, spoken of in the Biblical book of Matthew.

First off, despite your annual inundation of Christmas cards and nativity scenes, let’s admit that most of what the common man on the street will remember in reference to the Magi is sketchy at best and is not found anywhere in the Bible. Continue reading

Indispensable Tools for Writers, Trainers, & Small Business

Something different today: a small business post! I run two small businesses, so I’m all about finding useful tools and tricks for keeping my schedule and my sanity. Over the years, I’ve settled on a shortlist of things I’m not going to do without. And because these will probably be useful to other authors, trainers, and whatever, I am going to share them now with you.

Note: all of these are tools I actually use on a daily or weekly basis. A few have affiliate links, but they’re here only because I find real value in them. Your use of these affiliate links is very much appreciated!

MileIQ for small businessMileIQ

I drive to clients’ homes for appointments, or I drive to museums to research a book, or I drive to a conference, or — I drive a lot. And much of that mileage is deductible, but I am frankly bad at remembering to copy down odometer numbers or to calculate driving distance, blah blah blah.

Enter MileIQ, a phone app which not only tracks all my drives for me automatically, but allows me to sort them into personal and business categories in literal seconds. No, seriously, I mean 5 seconds or so. Continue reading

Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water

So it’s October, and you might have noticed I have a thing for the gothic and classic monsters, and it’s perfect weather for reading edgy stories, and so I have a new book to share with you today.

It’s about vampires. /toothy grin/ Continue reading

A Chocolate Coffin

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Chocolate.

That’s a very literal title.

After all, I wouldn’t lie to you.

It’s no secret that I have a thing about the classic Universal monsters and gothic tales. Nor is it a secret that I have a small problem with chocolate. And so I was absolutely delighted to receive this chocolate coffin. (Or casket, really.) Continue reading

Vikings everywhere: Leif Erikson Day

Christian Krohg's painting of Leiv Eiriksson d...

Christian Krohg’s painting of Leiv Eiriksson discovering America, 1893 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time you read this, Leif Erikson Day will be over — autumn Sundays are bad with football and election debates and such — but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it.

Leifr Eiríksson founded a Norse settlement at Vinland in Newfoundland. He was the son of Erik the Red, who founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland, and the grandson of Thorvaldr Ásvaldsson, who discovered Iceland. Exploration and settlement was a family business, it seems, and reunions must have been a heckuva scheduling challenge. Continue reading

Flora & Fauna in Fantasia

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background
Protected example of Common Ash (Fraxinus exce...

Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just because a book is a fantasy does not mean it does not require research (and in fact often requires more). Right now I am writing about the plants and animals of Asgard, and I am working to make them as probable as possible.

How do we know what animals lived and what plants grew in a land that never was? We look at where the storytellers lived. The Danes who first told these stories likely based their creatures and plants on the more familiar specimens they knew. Continue reading

Con Recaps! (And some cool news.)

So July was kind of a blur, and the first part of August, but all for very good reasons.

Cong Abbey by night, Celtic crosses and gravesIreland Writer Tours

Long-time blog readers know I blogged about writing in Ireland in 2015, and I went again this year. It’s a great week, full of fabulous touring and inspiration. But I stayed a little longer this year with organizer Fiona Claire to prepare for 2017, when I’ll be co-teaching with the talented Lorie Langdon!

Stay tuned for more information on this, but trust me, it’s going to be amazing. As I said in my newsletterWant to explore a 15th century castle, walk through an impossibly green forest to an ancient waterfall, and climb in the footsteps of both 8th century monks and Luke Skywalker? All while improving your writing craft and exploring your publication options? Continue reading