Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween! The Last Set of Cemetery Photos For Your Writing Inspiration!

I've been posting these all week, folks.  I hope you've enjoyed them.  Here's the last set:

Pretty ghostly, eh?  I thought so -- even before I turned it into a fake tintype.

This one's from the same cemetery as above, but it's on a rather tall post.  I think it's the angel Gabriel, waiting to blow his horn and awaken the dead -- which is very Halloweenish.

This is the very tomb I put into Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire.  It's a little, roofless house which faces away from any areas where security guards might wander in the Cannongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The tomb is, therefore, littered with drug items and other unsavory stuff.  Definitely scary in the unsupernatural sense.

The scariest thing in this photo is the heat haze and smog covering the Salt Lake Valley so much that the Oquirrh Mountains have completely disappeared from view.  Yuck!
This little cemetery holds the remains of those buried in what was likely the first non-tribal burial ground in Salt Lake.  It was originally in downtown SLC and was discovered by construction workers in the mid-1980s.  The remains that could be identified were given to descendants, but the rest of these early pioneers were re-buried on the mountainside above the valley they came to colonize.  The cemetery is part of Old Deseret Village, a living history museum that re-creates life before the railroad came in 1869.  None of the headstones have names, but their size indicates whether a child or an adult lies beneath.

That's all, folks.
Happy Halloween/Dia de los Muertos/All Souls' Eve/Samhuinn to all!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Got Another 5-Star Review!

OK, the reviews are coming in slooooowly.  (And two people who claim they like Becoming Brigid more than my other books still gave me only 4 stars.  What's up with that?)
Still, I'll take all the five-star reviews I can get, people.
(Remember, I've got book swag giveaways coming up, and those who review my books on Amazon, goodreads, or who send me a photo of themselves with the book are entered.)

Here's what the reviewer has to say:

I find Lisa Shafer’s way with characterization so appealing. She has the ability to write characters who seem fully dimensional only a short way into the story. It’s a real talent. It didn’t take long for me to “know” Pepper and want to cheer her along as she faced the obstacles that were put in her path of surprising self-discovery. And the obstacles were amazing and interesting and seemed valid and real – adventures and legends that took her to different places and different times, and introduced her to unusual people – again, more well-written characters. It couldn’t have been easy to stitch all the parts of the story together, but Ms. Shafer did it seamlessly. BECOMING BRIGID is truly a fun and enjoyable story for readers of all ages.

No, it wasn't easy to "stitch all the parts together."  It took me ten freakin' years to write this book!

I'd love it if you dropped over to Amazon and hit the "yes" button on this review.  Please?  Just click here.

I'd also love it if you'd buy a copy of the book, read it, and write me another 5-star review.  Go on now.  I'll wait.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More Halloween Writing Inspirational Photos: Cemetery Pics

Sunday I posted these.  And Monday these.

Here are today's creepy cemetery pics to help you with spooky writing.

First off, the ever-popular creepy girl as a monument:

I love that blue sky behind her, though.  (No, it's not color-enhanced; that's how it really was.)

And, from across the pond, we get this one:

This is a vintage Victorian Era Celtic cross marker on a gravesite at the Rock of Cashel, Ireland.  This was indeed your windswept graveyard.

From a completely different environment, we get this extremely lonely little cemetery.

This is the burial ground of the ghost town of Sego, Utah.  A few graves of Italian miners and their wives' babies are there, with just rattlesnakes and coyotes for company much of the time.  It doesn't get much more desolate than this.

That's it for today.  I have some more coming your way tomorrow, too.

Monday, October 28, 2013

More Creepy Cemetery Photos For Your Halloween Writing Inspiration!

Yesterday I posted a set of photos to inspire writers (and maybe photographers) for Halloween.  Here's today's set.

Isn't this just the perfect combo of spooky gravestones with the sea crashing against the edge of the cemetery?  OK, it'd be spookier if I'd photographed it by moonlight, but I did have a lot of ground to cover that day, so it's morning sunlight you get. :)
This was taken in the tiny hamlet of Orphir, on the mainland of Orkney.

Here's one that can either be creepy or else laughable; you take your pick.

In this image (which I had to climb on top of a bench and hold my camera above my head to take), a highly-distressed angel writhes in pain and some artistically inspired bird has managed to poop exactly in a spot to give the statue a "tear."  It is a both uncomfortable and hilarious image.
Here's the weirdest thing of all, though.  This exceptionally popular statue in the Salt Lake City Cemetery marks an empty grave of a completely fictional character, yet gullible people place toys, coins, and letters on the statue in memory of the little girl who never existed.  *eye roll*
Yeah, well, in Verona, Italy, you can PAY to see "Juliet's tomb," an empty stone casket from the 1300s (the right time period for Shakespeare's version) which once held someone -- but that someone wasn't Juliet, as she was a complete work of fiction (not even Shakespeare's invention, as the oldest version of the tale dates back to ancient Greece).  At least foolish people don't have to pay to see this wincing angel, with or without its bird poop tears.
Personally, I find the idea of a tortured angel to be really creepy and Halloween-worthy.

(Yes, I paid to see Juliet's tomb.  But it was roastingly hot that day, and the crypt was cool and pleasant.  Plus we got our moneys' worth in great photos.)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creepy Cemetery Photos To Inspire Your Halloween Writing

I take a lot of photos, not as many as Max does, but a LOT.  I also travel a lot.  And, for some reason, I take pictures of cemeteries.  A lot.
I have photos of band members on our dance tours climbing into unused graves in Italy, pictures of them lying supine on gravemarkers at Whitby Abbey (the famous graveyard mentioned in Dracula), shots of lonely, neglected headstones in the ghost town of Sego, Utah, shots of skulls in a neolithic tomb in the Orkney Islands, and some really odd graves in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.  I don't even remember when I started photographing stuff in graveyards; I've just done it for over 2 decades.
So, this week is Halloween, and I know there are other writers (and photographers) who read this blog. So I thought I'd share a few of my spooky photos with you this week.  (Maybe one of them will even inspire someone who plans to do NANWRIMO.)

To start off, here's this lovely faux-vintage number:

Spooky looking, isn't it?
It's actually a shot of an angel in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery near East High School in Salt Lake City.  I just used picmonkey to turn it into a pseudo-daguerreotype.

Here's another for your writing inspiration:

This is a shot of the interior of the ruins of Timoleague Abbey in Ireland.  The ruins are interesting enough, but the fact that I was greeted at the entrance with a large warning sign about the dangers of unlicensed gravedigging really blew my mind.  All around and about the abbey and the ground are centuries' worth of graves, modern ones on top of older ones.  And, apparently, there must be a significant problem with people digging graves by hand and just burying their loved ones without permits.  Freaky.

These 19th and early 20th century markers in the Heber City Cemetery in Utah remind me of giant chess pieces, waiting for -- possibly -- the Hand of God to move them.  Eerie.

And this grave in the Salt Lake City Cemetery is part of an urban legend.  Supposedly, if you visit this grave at midnight and walk backward around it three times, the face of the man buried there will appear in the little opening of the door.  Every high school kid knows someone who knows someone who has a neighbor/cousin/friend who swears s/he knows someone who did this and it worked.  (Personally, I've never tried it, but I bet that a visit to this tomb on Halloween would be very frightening -- if only because of the drunk/stoned people there trying to scare themselves into wetting their pants.)  But it's still rather creepy to see a grave that's supposedly haunted.

This concludes today's set of Halloween writing inspiration photos.  Check back again tomorrow for more spookiness!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Yes! It's Another Gorgeous Autumn Leaves Photo To Tempt Your Curiosity!

Beyond the portals in the stone circles, down the path from the clootie tree, over a thousand years into the past -- Brigid will travel there to give her own people the ceremony they haven't had in 16 years.  But this time, nothing will be quite the way it has been before.  Because Brigid isn't quite the way she was before.....

Curious?  Becoming Brigid.
You can buy the e-book here.  Or the paperback here.
You can enter to win a paperback on Goodreads.
You can read more about my other upcoming prizes here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Did You Ever Pray In School?

So, I was browsing about on Pinterest, and I ran across a board created by a woman who claims she was a "70s child."  Most of the pins there were things from the 1970s, like Charlie's Angels, mood rings, and Avon solid perfume pins.  Granted, she did have a couple of anachronisms, such as one pin of a drive-in movie theatre with all 1950s cars parked there.
But the pin that bothered me was one of kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance in a classroom -- and underneath the pic, the woman had written that she remember saying the Pledge every day, right after the prayer.
What the heck?!
We never prayed in school when I was a kid.   (OK, at graduation ceremonies, yes, but it ALWAYS felt wrong and forced.)  And I'm talking about Utah, here.  Outside of the Vatican, it's pretty hard to find a more religious place.  My older family members do not remember praying in school, either.  And I'm not sure my parents ever did.  (I'll have to ask.)
So, my question to you readers is this: if you attended a US public school as a child, did you pray in school?  And if so, when did you attend and where?  Obviously, some podunk town in Alabama in the 1940s would be more likely to have school prayer than New York City in the 1990s, but I am still curious.  Could this woman actually be right and remember school prayer in a public school in the 1970s????
What do you think?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nail Art Inspired By Becoming Brigid

Yesterday, I got this image tweeted to me:

See what she's done?  It's the cover of Becoming Brigid.  Look:

She's done the watercolor wash and the tree.  I bet that tree was hard.  :)

This lovely fan art/nail art was done by Leslie Redmond.  I feel so validated as an author now.  :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's October.

Becoming Brigid.  Learn more here.

(Photo: autumn leaves in Red Butte Garden, Salt Lake City.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 31 Is Samhuinn

It's the ancient Celtic new year, the end of the harvest, the coming of winter.  Much of the world spells the word "samhain," but in Scots Gaelic, it's spelled "Samhuinn."
In the festival held in Edinburgh each year, the Summer King perishes in a ceremonial duel with the Winter King, but he is saved from complete death by the Cailleach, or the wise-woman form of the triple goddess which is sometimes known as Brigid.
Oh, yeah.  That Brigid.

Want to find out what happens?  Becoming Brigid.
You can buy the e-book here.  Or the paperback here.
You can enter to win a paperback on Goodreads.
You can read more about my other upcoming prizes here.

P.S.  The above photo wasn't really taken in a mystical forest in ancient Scotland.  Sorry.  It's actually a lovely little gambol oak-lined path in Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City (with one degree of color enhancement to make it look a bit more like the mystical forest in ancient Scotland).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It Might Be Time To Replace The Thermostat

In the old days, I had an analog thermostat.  It was great.  If it ever didn't work quite right, I took the cover off, blew off the dust, snapped the cover back on, and all was well.
Then, when I was living in Scotland, my parents decided it was time for a new thermostat.  This one is digital.  And it behaves like a 7th grader.  Lately, it's been behaving like a 7th grader having a drama queen moment.

Me: Let's do 68.
Thermostat:  I like 65.
Me: It's evening.  I'm setting you to 68 to warm up the house.  You've been at 55 all day.  I want some heat.
Thermostat: OK.  65 it is.
Me: How did you turn yourself back down to 65?  I set you at 68.
Thermostat: No, you set me at 65.
Me: 68.  Here, I'll do it again.
Thermostat: 65 is better.  I'm going to do 65.

Actually, it's starting to remind me of the guard scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, now that I type it out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Goodreads Giveaway of Becoming Brigid Has Begun!

Want to win a paperback of Becoming Brigid?   Belong to Goodreads?  Check this out:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Becoming Brigid by Lisa Shafer

Becoming Brigid

by Lisa Shafer

Giveaway ends October 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'd Love It If You'd Click The "Like" Button

Becoming Brigid got its first 5-star review!   I'd really love it if you'd click this link to read it and then click the "Yes" button.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Upcoming Prizes!

Hey, folks, it's been a heck of a week for me, what with the school play and all.  But I am not through with giveaways yet!  Oh no.  Not at all.
I'm planning on doing a goodreads giveaway of Becoming Brigid in a few days.  (I've learned never to begin one on a Sunday or a Monday.)  I'd planned on doing a Free Book Friday giveaway, but those are no longer free to the author, so I may wait awhile for that.
But I'm planning on giving away more stuff here on the blog -- particularly to those souls who read and review my book (so get reading, people!).
Here's a taste of what's coming soon:

Yup, I had some tote bags made!  They make awesome library book bags.  Or school teacher stuff bags.  Or grocery bags.  Or laundry bags.  Or picnic bags.  Or -- okay, I'll shut up now.
Want to win one?  Buy Becoming Brigid, read it, review it.  Oh, and send me a photo of you with the book; that'll get you an entry, too!

A bag o'swag!  Another upcoming contest will feature some girly goodies that connect with Becoming Brigid.  First of all, it's spiffy, sparkly stuff -- in purple, to match the cover.  The bag itself is an excellent travel bag for undies or socks.  With it comes a sleep mask for tired eyes; it's filled with rice and lavender, so it smells really good.  Then there's some lip gloss.  And two items to make a girl dream of Dougal:  100 Best-Loved Poems (including several that he quotes) and some Bath and Body Works lotion called "Dark Kisses."  Yeah, THAT works for Dougal. *smirks*  Oh, and it's purple.  How convenient, right?

But, wait!  There's more!

One book-loving winner will get a spiral-bound journal (lined pages) with the beautiful cover (Thanks, Dad and Max) of Becoming Brigid on it, PLUS an altered mini-book, which includes photos of some of the real people who inspired characters, beautiful artwork of various goddess images, and, of course, the color themes from the book (notice the turquoise ribbon?).

Are you drooling yet?  Want to win when it's time?
Read the book and review it.  And send me a pic of yourself with the book.  Basically, you'll get entries for the pic, for reviewing on Amazon, for reviewing on goodreads, for reviewing on a blog.
So where can you get a copy of the book to start reading it?
Right here for a physical copy.  And right here for an e-copy.
You can also request that your local library buy a copy of the book.  That would make me very happy, too!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And The Winners Are.....

Nick W. and Sherry F. have won e-copies of Becoming Brigid!  Yea!
I'll be contacting you later today (when I'm not rushing to get ready to do hair and make up for the dress rehearsal of the school play at 7:00 AM).

To those who didn't win, more contests are coming soon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Attempted Murder? Cool!

Some of my readers prefer the more violent parts of Becoming Brigid.  After all, the ancient Celts and Picts weren't all about dancing around stone circles near bonfires, you know.  ;)

Hurry and enter to win an e-copy.  The contest ends soon.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My First Book Review Of Becoming Brigid!

(Note: the photo is not of the book reviewer, who is clearly a guy.  I'm just using all the photos I have of folks reading my book to do some self-promotion -- because, for an indie author, no one else is going to do it!)

So, this morning I found that a single review has been posted on Amazon.  True, the reader only gave me 4 stars, but it's a positive review.  And it's a REVIEW!  Finally!  (Very few people buy books that don't have reviews on them.)
Here's what the reviewer has to say:

I normally don't spend much time with novels that appeal to teenage girls, but I enjoyed this one so much so much I read it twice.
Lisa Shafer has created a strong female character who has flaws but also realizes that she doesn't have to rely on the men in her life to rescue her.  The setup up of the story is so intriguing that I wanted to read more to figure out if Pepper was going crazy, being haunted by ghosts, or being tormented by something even more sinister.  During my second read, I discovered more clues that helped unravel the early mysteries of the story.

I recommend this novel for girls and young women 16 years or older.

Well, that's very nice -- except I, personally, think the book's fine for girls a touch younger (like 14).  Our school librarians have approved it to be in the library, deeming it suitable reading for 9th graders, although we're not going to promote it to the younger kids, as some parents might find it a bit too "mature."

Anyway, I'm really glad I finally got a review before the first week was out.  Unfortunately, things are moving slowly on goodreads, too: no reviews yet and only 3 people have added the book.  I guess I'd better host a giveaway there muy pronto.

But, in the meantime, you can still enter my giveaway here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Yes, I Am Shamelessly Self-Promoting My Book.

Read it on a Kindle app or in paperback.
You can even enter the giveaway here for a free copy!

(Yes, I AM shamelessly self-promoting my book.  Why do you ask?)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Amanda's Reading It. How About You?

Becoming Brigid.
It's got Celtic deities.  And time travel.  An ancient stone circle or two.  And clootie trees.  Yeah, it's got clootie trees.  And a mysterious man with many names.

And you can enter to win it right here.

Or you can just buy it for $2.99 right here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Very First Becoming Brigid Giveaway!

Oh yes, more will follow, my friends.  More will follow.  I have prizes!
But first, let us begin by giving away two e-copies for Kindle or Kindle apps of my new book, Becoming Brigid!

Pepper Kircy has definite plans for her future. And she thinks she knows everything about her life -- at least until she meets Dougal, a man with way too much information about a past she doesn’t remember. Suddenly, her geeky, ghost-hunting dad and her mortician neighbors aren’t quite as ordinary as they seem. But then, neither is Pepper. 

Dougal’s tempting. He quotes poetry and insists on calling Pepper by the name she never uses: Brigid. Soon, she can’t get him out of her dreams. So, in spite of all his weird talk about a missing goddess and a long-lost stone, she could really like this guy. Maybe even enough to change her precious plans. 

If he'd just stop trying to kill her....

Don't want to wait for the contest?  No problem.  Feel free to buy the book.  In fact, feel free to buy lots and lots of my books! ;)

Available as a POD at Amazon.  Click here.
The e-book is also now available.  Click here.

Spread the word.  Enter the contest.  You can enter every day if you like.  :)  On October 8, I will announce two winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway