The Heartbeat Thief

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May 12, 2015

We have the honor of hosting AJ Krafton as she begins a tour of her new release The Heartbeat Thief, a fantastic book that begins in the late 1800’s. Here’s a little insight from AJ about tea time.

Time for Tea: Victorian Tradition and its Place in THE HEARTBEAT THIEF

Victorian tea time wasn’t always a thing.

Tea has been around for thousands of years. In many cultures, it was customary to share tea with company. Tea was ceremonial, a sacred part of social law.

In England, mealtimes evolved to include two main meals: breakfast and dinner. Dinner became an evening phenomenon, which was held after the work day. In the case of the upper classes, dinner was an event that lasted hours into the night. Afternoon meals tended to light and on-the-go and had no real structure.

What we’ve come to know as “tea time” began with Duchess Anne of Bedford. Anne experienced a “sinking feeling” around three or four o’clock and would ask her maids to sneak her tea and pastries, since supper wouldn’t come until much later in the evening. At first, she had tea alone but eventually the practice was expanded to include her close friends.

Thus, a tradition was born and tea time became a thing.

Less food, more talking

Victorian tea time carried on the tradition of offering tea to guests. Tea was served in wide-mouthed shallow cups (nothing like our 16 ounce paper cups from the coffee shop). That way, tea could be sipped without waiting all afternoon for it to cool (or blowing on it, which could lead to sloppy accidents). Tea time became synonymous with company and socializing and was, in itself, a social event.

And Victorian events were elegant, spectacular things.

It was customary to have tea in the parlor or garden. It provided a chance to show off the hostess’s best china and linens, as well her abilities to command the skills of her kitchen staff.

Tea served not only to quiet the rumblings of a belly, it was food for the social soul. Dishes were customarily light and easy to eat without worry of a catastrophic mess. Eating was a dainty dance in itself.

Tea sandwiches, cakes, scones, biscuits, candies and nuts were usual fare for low tea (named for the low tables around which guests gathered—think “coffee tables” in the living room). I found a website with loads of recipes here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/HighTeaRecipes.htm I refer to it often when I’m looking to create a special little something.

Trays of snacks were laid out so guests could serve themselves. Affluent hostesses could afford an elaborate tea service such as http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/f9/4a/f8/f94af81ddcca5b29c0fc64c386e2d8bd.jpg

(By comparison, my tea service looks like this: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/triniTEA.html Not quite as shiny J but it makes a perfect pot, every time.)

The overall goal of these tea parties was to ensure that guests enjoyed themselves so thoroughly that they completely lose track of time, ensuring the hostess’s graceful place in the hearts and esteem of all invited.

Senza and her Tea

In The Heartbeat Thief our heroine, Senza Fyne, took much comfort in the ritual of tea time. Despite her longer-than-usual life, she never lost her affinity for a well-set tea. It connected her to precious memories of family and friends and times long gone by. Here’s a brief excerpt from The Heartbeat Thief, in which Senza prepares tea for company for the first time in a very, very long time.

 

The Heartbeat Thief

The tea kettle hissed, the steam building up to a whistle. She plucked it off the heat before it could reach full shriek. She didn’t like noise. She’d become far too accustomed to quiet and stillness. It had been ages since she made tea, a proper tea with a full service and decorative sugars. She’d missed the routine.

Grandmother had always taken three lumps of sugar in hers. She’d preferred a Darjeeling, earthy and fragrant, over the milder Assams and startling Keemuns that Father would bring home. Darjeeling, she’d insisted, was an expression of liquid divinity. If you could taste the earth, you could touch the stars. Be one with everything.

Senza blinked, stirring herself from the hazy memory. Grandmother had always told her to live in the moment. Senza seemed only to live in the past.

Wrong moments in which to live.

She rubbed her temple with the bend of her wrist and spooned tea leaves into the pot. Funny that he’d procure a tea service for her in this rustic shanty, a proper set with a silver empress tea strainer and matching sugar and creamer pots. Odd that he’d provide a service for two people, especially since she’d always been completely alone.

Senza arranged the service on a broad silver tray and arranged a spread of biscuits onto a saucer, next to a plate of cucumber and spread cheese sandwiches. A small bowl of candied fruits completed the tea. All had been conveniently located in the small pantry, as if she’d shopped the list on her own.

Stepping back, she surveyed her work. Grandmother would approve. A good host always saw to the tea herself, taking every pain to ensure her guests lost track of the time of day.

Hefting the tray, she carried it into the front room, still startled by its shocking transformation. A small but cozy fire blazed in the simple brick fireplace, near to which an unfamiliar tea table stood. Hand-embroidered flowers trimmed the edge of the linen, matching the elegant bunch of flowers that topped a grey ceramic vase.

 

Senza enjoyed a small tea in that scene, but I love this post here http://www.thethriftygroove.com/2010/05/victorian-tea-party.html because it shows a full elaborate spread that Senza would really have enjoyed. Now, THAT’S what I call a happy tea time.

Perhaps the next time you’re experiencing a “sinking feeling” you’ll treat yourself to a cup of Darjeeling and a cinnamon scone and have a happy moment to yourself (or, better yet, with a friend). There’s no reason to let go of the past when it’s full of sweet traditions like tea time. No wonder Senza Fyne never surrendered her fondness for the practice, even as the years took everything else away from her, bit by precious bit.

For more images of tea time and the book THE HEARTBEAT THIEF by AJ Krafton, visit https://www.pinterest.com/demimondeash/the-heartbeat-thief-by-aj-krafton/

Heartbeat Thief

The Heartbeat Thief by A.J. Krafton
Publication date: June 12th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth—she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.

In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death—and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.

So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible—he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it…

When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death—but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.

It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…

How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?

Purchase:
(the first two days of release will be selling at 99cents)
 _________

Writing about a beautiful lady deserves beautiful words, and that’s exactly what AJ Krafton has accomplished with The Heartbeat Thief. Senza Fyne will rob you of more than your heartbeat; she’ll steal your heart.

Ronesa Aveela Review:

I received an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

True to its word, “The Heartbeat Thief” is part Jane Austen, part Edgar Allen Poe. The author revives the best of the style of writing found in the classics: the introspect of characters, lovely allusions comparing characters to nature and life, beautiful alliteration and prose. Mixed with this is a deep foreboding of death, a macabre sensation that follows Senza throughout the story. AJ Krafton not only tells you a story, she makes you experience it with your senses. You can feel the fog moistening your skin as Senza wanders around London. You can smell the city’s decay. You can hear the clatter of horses against the cobblestones. And your own heart will anguish along with Senza as she despairs about life–and death–in an era when a woman’s beauty guaranteed her a well-matched marriage, even more than her wealth.

This story put me in a dilemma. I wanted to read it slowly to savor the sensation of the words on my mind–each and every of the author’s carefully selected prose, filled with so much imagery and symbolism. But I also wanted to hurry and finish it to discover every new adventure Senza experienced. Would the “heartbeat thief” be discovered?

If you want a toss-away book that just tells you a story, go to a grocery store checkout line. If you want a story that makes you think, one in which you can appreciate the words as much as the story, one that leaves you pondering life–and death–this is the book for you. You won’t be disappointed.

tqJKOwsnAUTHOR BIO:

AJ Krafton is the author of New Adult speculative fiction. Her debut The Heartbeat Thief  is due out on Kindle in June 2015. Forthcoming titles include Taking’ It Back  & Face of the Enemy. She’s a proud member of the Infinite Ink Authors. AJ also writes adult spec fic as Ash Krafton. Visit Ash at  http://ashkrafton.com

 

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

Signed copy of The Heartbeat Thief

Ends June 25th, 2015.
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The Louvre Displays Ancient Treasures of the Thracian Empire – Who are the Thracians?

April 21, 2015

“The Saga of the Thracian Kings,” an exhibition now on view at the Louvre in Paris.

Who are the Thracians and where is the Thracian Empire?

We knew little about the Thracians when we started to work on Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey. When people mention Thrace, the only heroes who readily come to mind are Hercules, Orpheus, and Spartacus – if even those. But Thrace has a vast history beyond its mythology or the conflict with Rome. We enthusiastically rolled up our sleeves and researched their culture, religion, and customs.thrace1 Our efforts were reward with a delightful review: “I love that there is a little bit of historical elements in this book, namely the stuff set in ancient Thrace. A history buff myself, it isn’t often I get the chance to read things about Thrace that don’t involve Spartacus. Major props to the writer for creating this wonderful tale.”

Quite often now when we mention the book, people ask, “Where is Thrace?” or “Who were the Thracians? Is that a country?”

So, let’s start with the easy question: “Where is Thrace?” The Thracians lived in southeastern Europe along the Black Sea, in the region that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

“Who were the Thracians?” poses a more difficult question. What we can tell you is that they have been around for a long time. Since the people themselves did not have a written language, everything that is known about them comes from other sources. The first historical reference to them was in Homer’s Iliad, where it was mentioned that they were allies to the Trojans. But evidence of them as a distinct people exists as far back as 1500 BC.

They were a warlike tribal nation, living in mountains and valleys. But they were also great artisans, finely crafting delicate golden objects and painting beautiful murals.

1024px-Sofia_-_Panagyurishte_Thracian_Gold_Treasure

A polytheistic people, they worshiped the Sun and Moon. Bendis, called the Great Goddess, was one of their primary deities. Better known, however, is Dionysus, the god of wine, whom the Greeks incorporated into their mythology. It’s through the story of Orpheus (you remember him; he went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice) that the tale of this drunken god is probably best known. The story didn’t end well for Orpheus. The Maenads, followers of Dionysus, tore his apart. Yup, gruesome.

Even today, Bulgaria is known for its wine. Many myths and legends mention Thracian wine. Homer says the most popular wine, one with the best aroma and body, came from the Thracian city of Maroneia. Odysseus also used Thracian wine to put the Cyclops Polyphemus to sleep before he struck the beast in the eye with his spear.

When Christianity crept into the region, the Dionysian cult faded away. But even today the feast of Saint Trifon is celebrated, and the festivities trace back to the cult of Dionysus (for example, pouring wine and electing a king). But, that could be the topic of another entire blog.

April 2015 to July 2015: Bulgaria To Exhibit Thracian Treasures In Paris’ Louvre – The exhibition “Antique Thrace – The Odrysian Kingdom” will feature the Panagyurishte golden treasure and 325 exhibits – mostly golden and silver items from various treasures. – The items in the exhibition were evaluated by insurers at EUR 165 M

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-thracian-culture-reveals-splendor-at-louvre.aspx?pageID=238&nid=81471

Spotlight Blog Tour – April Adams

March 13, 2015

Please welcome the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for March 2015, April Adams. April is the Author of “Shattered”.

Emotion, the Seventh Sense

Good profile picTaste, touch, sight, sound, smell, intuition, and emotion. Every single scene should have a good mixture of these things. Smell is often overlooked in writing, but emotion is sometimes nonexistent! On the other hand, too much emotion ruins a scene.

In my first draft of Shattered, there was a scene where Glenn was furious. I had originally written this scene as follows:

“No!” Glenn shouted, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward a little bit, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. “No I tell you!” His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” he stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care. Not for every life in this realm.” Glenn growled.

“Wait, what?” I asked, realizing what he had said. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s furious hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do.” He answered.

“No!” Glenn roared again, turning from him to me, his look changing from venom to kindness. “I will not let you go with him.” He whispered forcefully, taking both my hands in his and falling to his knees in front of me. His blue eyes held no hint of tears, only determination. I searched his face and found nothing but what he wanted me to see. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care.

“Glenn Elambil.” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips. “For disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising into my throat.

Glenn squeezed my hands and winked at me. “Yes.” He said, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him.” He explained to me, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, brother,” he turned and directed this last to Gable, “that I’ll be coming with you.”

But that’s a little too much emotion. So, I tweaked it to this:

adams“No,” Glenn said in a voice like steel, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward slightly, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose. I was shocked by this sudden escalation and pressed myself into the back of my chair.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” He stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care,” Glenn said, matter-of-fact.

“Wait, what?” I asked. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the Wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do,” he answered.

“No,” Glenn said again, turning from him to me, his look changing from cold steel to kindness. His eyes were honest. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care. I felt a cold chill tingle down my spine. Gable didn’t strike me as a good man, but I hadn’t thought him dangerous.

“Glenn Elambil,” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips, “for disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising in my throat, standing in objection.

Glenn winked at me. “Yes.” He stood with rounded shoulders, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him,” he explained, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, that you’ll have to take me with you.”

You can see the difference for yourself. Don’t be afraid to write emotion, hust don’t make it too “drama club” like I did in that first draft. Yeesh. First drafts are the worst!

 

Find me online!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G
Twitter: @apriladamsnovel
Facebook:   www.fb.com/apriladamsnovel
Website: www.writerapriladams.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/apriladamsnovel

Bulgarka Magazine

March 8, 2015

Visit “Bulgraka,” a virtual place where Bulgarians around the world connect, laugh, engage, collaborate and buy unique goods. Their mission is to re-imagine the Bulgarian reality in a ways that build more fulfilling and lasting community.

http://www.bulgarkamagazine.com/

bulgarka11

 

 

 

In Bulgarian:

Българка е списанието на българите по ​​света. Тук се свързваме, смеем и сътрудничим.
Наша мисия е да си представяме, напомняме и възстановяваме българската реалност по начин, който изгражда едно по-пълноценно и здраво общество.

Our Author Interview on YA Story Teller blog

February 21, 2015

Visit my latest interview with YA Story Teller:
This blog follows book reviews, book blitzes, cover reveals and book tours. Basically anything that has to do with books.
 

Light Love Rituals

January 18, 2015

LIGHT:
One of the main characters in rituals and folklore is the sun. The symbol of life, the sun wakes nature in the spring to begin a new cycle.

LOVE:
Love is an important aspect of human life. It’s the feeling that makes us different from animals. Love enchants us and makes us good.

RITUALS:
Everyone incorporates some sort of rituals into their life and lifestyle. Rituals are an occasion for families to gather around the table and share a good meal, their memories, love, and traditions from generation to generation. Rituals connect the past with the present and help us embrace and understand our future.

ritualsThere is no finer tradition than the making of Bulgarian cuisine, which is as rich as the soul of the Bulgarian people. Bulgarian meals, like the colors woven into the nation’s rugs, represent the hospitality and rich spirituality of its people. From the mystical Rhodope Mountains, the birth place of Orpheus, to the Thracian Valley, known for its roses, whether the dishes are light or hearty, they will always be savory.
“Light Love Rituals” describes many Bulgarian rituals that have survived through the centuries. The ones included within its pages follow the cycle of nature and of human lives. It is not meant to be a scholarly nor an exhaustive work. It is meant to provide readers with a glimpse into Bulgarian culture.

To enjoy an even greater taste of Bulgaria, try some of the recipes in the section called “Maria’s Kitchen,” where you can prepare popular Bulgarian dishes. Some of the recipes have a modern twist to make them easy and interesting to make.

Take the journey and experience the Magic of Bulgaria. On Amazon in February 2015.

Enchanting Samodivi (Wildalone)

January 17, 2015

In Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey, you’ll discover samodivi (singular, samodiva), wild, wildalones beautiful nymphs, who have enchanted Bulgarians for centuries. They can be found in the woodlands and by water sources from spring until autumn. After that, they return to the palace of the Sun for the winter.

Numerous legends about them are still alive. In remote villages, people pay respect to them and are afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful songs. One of the people I met in an online writers’ group (scribophile.com) lives in a secluded village in Bulgaria. I asked him what the people there believed about the samodivi. Here is his response.

“The common belief in this village is that since we started having electric all the time, the samodivi went away. Apparently they were real and people would see them all the time, but it all stopped after they were freed from Turkish rule. In our village during that time the water was taken from wells or from a spring in the woods, so if you didn’t have a well you’d have to go to the woods. It was quite often that they saw shapes in the trees and believed them to be samodivi. Now a lot of the younger adults, the mothers and the father instead of the grandparents, believe that it is all legends, too many drunk nights. The people here still believe in creatures that come down with the lightning and stay as energy and run around even after the storm has passed. My next door neighbour claimed to have seen one running up his house last summer. But as for samodivi, they believe that they all vanished. It’s funny because I have been told that it was normal practice to run through the forest naked in hope that you’d find a samodiva. But after a few drinks, you might bump into someone else running naked and think you found one.”

In Mystical Emona, we don’t have people running naked through the forest, but the following passage from the book is our interpretation of what you might see if you happen to run across samodivi in the forest.

A soft, slow music drifted toward him as he neared the cheshma. Several women held hands and danced in a circle around the ancient walnut tree, a blue light glowing at its base. Wreaths of flowers crowned their unbound hair, their locks gliding over their shoulders. Their long white robes fluttered like lustrous moths under the shimmering moon.

At the edge of the glade, a shadowy image, playing a long flute-like instrument, cast out eerie notes. They hung over the darkness like a delicate silk net, enfolding the women within its threads. The longer Stefan listened, the more the sound hypnotized him.

The tempo of the music quickened, and the women kept pace with it. Their feet danced through the dewy grass, while their bodies, bathed in silver and gold rays of moonlight, twirled closer together, narrowing the circle around the tree. Their dance became wild and erratic, their voices louder, filling the night with a chilling sound.

A final shrill note reverberated through the air. The women released hands, raised them to the sky, and began whirling in a frenzied torrent. The belts around their robes loosened and slid to the ground. As the note faded, the women lowered their hands. Their robes, too, slipped off and drifted away, leaving nothing on their gleaming bodies but the magical light of the moon. Stefan’s sharp intake of breath caught in his throat at their loveliness. Unable to tear his eyes from them, he envisioned the scene captured on canvas.

Then, the flutist played a soft melody. The women lifted their faces to the moon and sang strange words. Stefan listened in awe to the splendor of their voices, as their bodies, like exotic flowers gliding back and forth in the breeze, swayed to the rhythm of the trees. Their words encircled him, as if the women themselves surrounded him. He glanced around, but the night revealed nobody except the dancing women before him.

Samodivi dancing
“Samodivi” by Nelinda. nelinda.com

Silver Butterflies 

Behold the silent beauties ruffling winds,
spelling purity of a love so bold,
goddesses of water, woods and land,
swish their dresses upon your pool.

Vedra’s hands could raise the seas,
bring upon you draught or prosperity,
oh heaven behold, she was blessed,
with silky dresses and a voice so sleek.

Sweet Carina is ladened with lands,
to hold the minds of all mankind,
her thoughts dance upon the sands,
meaning to show a man his heart.

Dear Morena burdened the most,
to see the loss of those she loves,
always hunted by the future,
she’s to ever be your seer and guard.

Nymphs so pure, embrace the world,
call with golden songs to the skies,
listen as they guide you home,
listen as they hold your hand.

—Noor Lek

Travel to the world of the Balkans with Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey and discover the secret lives of Samodivi (Veelas, Samovili) or Wildalones. You’ve met these wondrous, mythological creatures or as some people called them “forest witches”  in different books. Now let Mystical Emona introduce you to Samodivi or “wildalones”  as legend portrays them. Discover the Magic of Bulgaria and the mystical spell of Emona.