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Archive for the ‘Owls’ Category

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

Broad Universe, an organization which supports and encourages women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, is sponsoring the Full Moon Blog Tour from October 25th until November 7th. As a member of Broad Universe, I’m delighted to participate, and encourage you to visit the other posts. There are prizes to be had, stories to be read, and new writers to meet.

And now, to my post, Owl Moon:

The moon holds a special place in myth and legend. Wolves, coyotes, and dogs howl at the mirror in the sky. Werewolves and other shape-changers are influenced by the moon and its mystical light. Gazing up at the moon, humans see Swiss cheese, a man, an old woman (Grandmother Moon), a rabbit, a dragon, and other images in the darker gray areas caused by craters. Beings of Faerie dance in moonlight (and lure the unwary to dance with them until they are either spirited away to Faerie or drop from exhaustion). And legend holds if you stare into a moonshadow, you can see the past.

So it’s little wonder that the moon and its magical light play a part in my collection of speculative stories, Owl Light. In fact, “owl light” is that period of a day from dusk to dawn when owls and their nighttime companions live their secret lives.

Maybe6 owl light cover Owls populate every story in Owl Light. “The Clockwork Owl” is a time-travel, steampunk story with a automaton owl who is made to save a life in the past and the future. Owls hoot from the trees in some of the stories like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Gabeta,” and “The Burryman.” Owls huddle in the corners of burial caves in ” Pawprints of the Margay” and serve as the companion of the daughter of winter in “On a Midwinter’s Eve.” In “Feathers,” not only do owls serve as mounts for fairies, but they’re able to talk and they attack an executioner ready to kill a condemned woman.

One of the stories in Owl Light where owls, the moon, folklore, and magic are pivotal is “Gifts in the Dark.” For those who’d like take a peek, here’s the Wattpad link so you can read the full story.

When it came time to paint a cover for Owl Light (yes, I am an illustrator, too), I found myself returning again and again to the image of a barn owl before an orange full moon.

Many cultures name full moons: The Harvest Moon appears in fall at the time of the harvest. Cold Moon appears, of course, in the depths of winter – as does Hunger Moon. Strawberry Moon is the full moon which appears in June when strawberries are ripe for the picking. One of my favorites, Worm Moon, is in the spring when the earth thaws and the worms become active again.

owl light cover 300 Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I named the cover painting, “Owl Moon.” What better creature to name a full moon after?

So as Selene (the moon goddess) rises into the night sky in a few days, go outside and listen to the nocturnal sounds. Perhaps there will be neighborhood dogs barking or crickets chirping, unless heavy frosts have silenced their songs. Or perhaps (if you’re lucky) you’ll hear the haunting call of an owl. Then you, too, can witness an Owl Moon.

Thanks for stopping by, Whimsical Words, and a shout out to Greta van der Rol for organizing the Full Moon Blog Tour.

Now, here’s the fun part – I’ll be sending a PDF of one of my books to one of the people who comments on this blog post.

untitled But wait, there are other prizes to be had – including books and gift cards via the Rafflecopter, and other goodies offered at other Full Moon Tour sites.

And here’s the link to visit the Rafflecopter for this tour.

Keep reading, visit my Broad Universe friends (see chart below), listen for owls beneath this autumn’s full moon, and maybe even purchase your copy of Owl Light. – Vonnie

Welcome to Broad Universe’s Full Moon blog tour, offering you a selection of the very best speculative fiction. Whether your taste is paranormal, space opera, high fantasy, gothic horror or something else altogether, please visit the participant’s sites for a taste of moonlit magic – and a chance to win some great prizes.

1. Jennifer Allis Provost 16. Once in a Blue Muse
2. The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor 17. Words from Thin Air
3. With What I Most Enjoy 18. Balancing Act
4. Life Happens. A Lot.  19. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
5. Pippa Jay 20. Shauna Roberts’ blog
6. I Bleed Ink 21. Ripped from the Headlines
7. Clay and Susan Griffith 22. Ann Gimpel’s Blog
8. TW Fendley 23. Disquieting Visions 
9. Because quirky characters fall in love, too… 24. Bits of This & That
10. Carole Ann Moleti 25. Alma Alexander
11. From the Shadows 26. Darksome Thirst
12. The Far Edge of Normal 27. Kate’s blog
13. The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose 28. Alexandra Christian: The Southern Belle from Hell
14. Melisse Aires ~ Romance with Infinite Possibilities 29. Whimsical Words
15. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Epic (R)evolutions 30. Musings From the Underworld

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4 Gabeta small I love owls! So much so, I featured an owl and/or the dusk-to-dawn owl hunting time in every tale in my short story collection, Owl Light.

I’ve had the good luck to see in-person many species of these amazing birds, so when I read a recent article sent to me by my daughter-in-law Dawn, I could identify most of the owls correctly.

For other owl-lovers, check out this wonderful Audubon article on owls. Enjoy!

(And you might want to check out the series of Owl posts I did here, on Whimsical Words, with lots of links to owl videos and articles).

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I’ll be updating my website in the next few weeks. In order to streamline the site while still offering an opportunity for my readers to check out a few free samples, I’ve turned to Wattpad.

Watt-what” a few of you might ask. Wattpad is a site where many writers, some professional and some beginners, post free excerpts and complete stories. There are even some complete books for readers to enjoy.

I think it’s a great site for readers (free reads – need I say more) and writers. For writers, it’s an opportunity to offer a sample of your work to readers who might become fans of your work. If you decide to only offer excerpts, perhaps readers will be intrigued enough to search out the complete story or book. If you own all rights to a story or book, and are so inclined, you can gift your readers with a complete tale. Again, in the hopes those readers will become fans.

Here’s a link to one of my excerpts (over 12,000 words, so it’s a big excerpt) on Wattpad. You can easily find the other free prose I’m offering (including a complete story). If you like my excerpts and complete story, please Follow me, make a comment, favor the tale, and tell your friends.

Happy reading!

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Techie Brain The word automaton sounds very futuristic, but these clockwork machines were first built hundreds of years ago. I began my speculative story collection, Owl Light, with a time-travel, steampunk story about an owl automaton. And the builder of my owl machine in “The Clockwork Owl” was officially employed as a clockmaker.

You can imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this video of an automaton, The Writer, built by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a clockmaker, in Switzerland hundreds of years ago. It is a fascinating machine, but a bit creepy. Perhaps it’s because dolls in general give me the heebie-jeebies, but this little clockwork boy is both amazing and the stuff of my nightmares.

What do you think — is the automaton in this video genius or creepy or both?

 

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small owl light When I see a new review for my book has been published on a website, I always hold my breath for a moment as I click on the link. It shouldn’t matter what a reviewer thinks about my writing – but it does!

Many thanks to reviewer January Gray for her kind words. A sample quote: “A very pleasurable and magical book you will read over and over.” Thanks to January, also, for her 5 Star rating on Amazon. To read all of January’s comments about Owl Light, visit her webpage.

Owl Light has 5 reviews, all 5 Stars. Woot! I hope some of you might be interested in buying and reading this collection of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and ghost-tale stories. (And please post a review so I can read what YOU thought about Owl Light).

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Sandy after licking snow First, Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I’m grateful for so many things in my life including those readers who pick up (or download) one of my books and read it. Though, I’m not sure I’m especially thankful for yesterday’s snow.

Second, I hope some of you are planning on attending Chessiecon this weekend. It’s a small science-fiction/ fantasy convention with quite a bit of steampunk programming. I’ll have art in the art show, be participating on both writing and art panels, be reading from Owl Light, be selling and signing books, and have some of my art, etc. in the vendors’ area. Please stop by and say, “Hello.”

Third, I’ll be a next Saturday’s Authors & Artists Holiday Sale at the Bel Air (Maryland) Armory. Again, I’ll have books and art available for purchase for you or holiday gift-giving.

Fourth, The Gunpowder Review 2014 is complete and currently undergoing a little editorial and typesetting polishing. I expect it to be published soon. (Contributors will be hearing from me shortly).

Lastly, I’ve been out of town visiting family, and have fallen behind on my posts. Don’t worry, I have lots of interesting links and posts to share over the next few weeks.

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Here’s another blog in the series of owl-focused posts to promote Owl Light, my new YA-friendly collection of stories featuring owls. If you’re a fan of owls, or know someone whooo is, follow my blog, buy my book, and be kind to these beautiful birds.

A few Saturdays ago, I wrote an Owl and Pussy Cat post. This week, I thought I’d give a nod to all the wonderful dogs out there (my beloved Black-Mouthed Cur included). Here are 4 Owl and Dog videos for your enjoyment. Three of them feature the same duo, and the other is a puppy being introduced to an owl.

Enjoy!

Owl & Dog One

Owl & Dog Two

Owl & Dog Three

Owl & Dog Four

And, of course, here’s a buy link for Owl Light.

Or buy it from The Owl Pages and help out owls.

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2 Pawprints large art The Day of the Dead customs celebrated in Mexico and elsewhere are fascinating. The Dead are welcomed. Seemingly macabre toys, food, and costumes are actually colorful and festive symbols encouraging ancestors to return to this world for a visit.

Here’s a link to a site with lots of Day of the Dead information.

And a link to the complete version of one of my Day of the Dead stories, “Gifts in the Dark,” included in my newest story collection, Owl Light.

Gifts in the Dark  Like what you’re reading? You can check out Owl Light and my other books on Amazon.

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794 Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even as a child, it seemed the world was awash in magic and mystery on October 31. Here’s a hodge-podge of Halloweenie treats for my readers to enjoy:

The link to a FREE Day of the Dead story.

A link to an article about creepy (and probably haunted) homes.

A link to some witch costume update ideas.

A link to an article about ghost towns.

IMG_2395 And last, but not least, a marvelous Edgar Allan Poe quote: “Dim vales- and shadowy floods-/ And cloudy-looking woods,/ Whose forms we can’t discover/ For the tears that drip all over!/ Huge moons there wax and wane-/ Again- again- again-/ Every moment of the night-/ Forever changing places-/ And they put out the star-light/ With the breath from their pale faces…”

Have a marvoulous, magical, mysterious Halloween – Vonnie

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IMG_1803 On this dreary October day, what better quote than this ghost, spirit, and zombie friendly one from the master of the macabre: “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” – Edgar Allan Poe

Though there will always be doubting Thomases and Thomasinas, ghostly sightings, unexplained occurrences, and haunted places are a part of our culture. Cemeteries in particular can feel rather spooky. I came across two sites which list haunted cemeteries: America’s Most Haunted Cemeteries and Most Haunted Cemeteries. (And it’s no surprise to find Poe’s gravesite on one of the lists).

Though I personally find cemeteries quite comforting, and have picniced with family members amongst the tombstones, this is not the case for many people. And it should not be the case for visitors to the graveyard in my Halloween story, “Bad Moon Rising,” from my science fiction/ fantasy/ ghost tale collection, Owl Light. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story. (FYI, it gets spookier by the end – including murder and ghosts).

Bad Moon Rising

‘Darleen glanced at the clock hanging over the cash register. It was four minutes after eleven, and the last customer of the evening was still perched on a swivel stool at the luncheon counter eating a slice of pumpkin pie. She finished sopping up the coffee, cider, and cola puddles from the tabletop of the diner booth nearest the door and pulled down the window shades hiding from view the jack-o-lantern, bat, black cat, and owl cut-outs stuck on the storefront glass. Then, she walked in back of the luncheon counter, and slid her pencil and order pad onto the top shelf beside the bins containing extra sugar and artificial sweetener packets. Her feet hurt.

“Thanks,” said the elderly customer as he pushed the empty plate towards her. “That was real good.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Sudduth. See you tomorrow night.”

“Right, tomorrow night,” the old man replied as he buttoned up his sweater, shuffled out the front door of Raleigh’s Delight.

Darleen took off her apron and hung it up on a peg. She checked her make-up in the shiny chrome of the carbonated beverage dispenser. She liked to look at herself in the chrome – the faint crows-feet around her eyes weren’t visible. The mirrors in the ladies’ room made her look thirty. But why shouldn’t they? She was thirty-six.

She pushed open the swinging door to the kitchen, hollered, “Stan. Everybody’s out. I’m leaving.”

She spotted the diner’s owner, Stan Raleigh, scrubbing the griddle. Darleen liked the fact he didn’t just hire school kids to do all the dirty work. He pitched in, did some of the messy chores, too.

Stan looked up from the greasy slab of steel. “Register closed down?”

“Yeah. I closed it before Mr. Suddamendala left. Tape’s in the drawer.”

“Thanks. Have a good night,” called Stan from the sink as he sudsed up a scrub brush. “Don’t forget to lock the door on the way out, especially tonight.”

“No problem. But there shouldn’t be any trouble, by now the trick-or-treaters are all in bed,” Darleen responded as she reached under the luncheon counter and grabbed her pocketbook.

Darleen walked out of Raleigh’s Delight, slammed the front door. Slamming wasn’t optional. The door never locked if you closed it gentle-like. She jiggled the handle, just to double-check. It was locked. She nodded at the cardboard skeleton jitterbugging on the other side of the door’s glass pane, then, turned and tugged the rubberband out of her hair. She wore her hair tied back when waitressing, but when not at work, she loved the silky way it felt against her neck.

Darleen hurried down the sidewalk, smiling at the full moon that hung like a dinner plate on the wall of night. The 11:20 bus should be by any minute, and she was eager to get home. She popped a piece of chewing gum in her mouth and looked at her watch: 11:21 pm. She wondered where the bus was.

Tonight, she needed to be home on time – she was expecting company. Plus, she’d forgotten to refill her ferret’s bowl of dried kibbles. Not that the ferret was thin. Darleen suspected she had one of the few fat ferrets in the world. Still, she worried that Claude might get into more trouble than usual if she was late coming home.

She heard the grinding of gears as the bus driver down-sifted at the stop before hers. She spit out her gum, wrapped it in a tissue, tossed it into a nearby trashcan, unwrapped a second piece, put the new gum in her mouth, and slid its wrapper into her uniform’s pocket. Two pieces of gum would normally be excessive, but minty-fresh breath was extra important tonight…’ (I’m sure you can guess – her “company” will be of the undead sort!)

HallowRead 2014 poster2 Looking for something fun and spooky to do this weekend? Attend HallowRead. Make sure to stop by and say, “Hi,” to me on Sat. October 25th. I’ll sign my books, plus have a few to sell. Cant’ make it but you’d like to read more of my fiction? Here’s my Amazon author page.

And for fellow Walking Dead fans, I couldn’t resist adding another zombie link. Based on this article, living in the Baltimore area, I’m “up-the-creek-without-a-paddle” when the Zombie Apocalypse comes.

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