Thursday, December 5, 2013

Crafty Heroines: Using Repurposed Objects for Magical Protection

When I was writing the first three novellas in the Bitter Snow series, I enjoyed pulling in a lot of bits and pieces of folklore that were rattling around my brain. Like, the ancient belief that “cold iron” will repel evil spirits, demons, faeries, and witches.

Did you know:

·       the tradition of enclosing a cemetery with wrought-iron fences and gates came from the belief that the iron would keep the spirits of the dead inside?

·       burying a knife with a steel blade under your doorstep was supposed to stop a witch from entering the house? (Ordinary steel is between 98% and 99.9% iron.)

·       nailing a horseshoe over your door was believed to keep evil spirits from entering? (This is likely the origin of the superstition that a horseshoe brings good luck).

In Dark Solstice, the second novella in the series, I threw a little bit of a twist on the power of cold iron. The demon goddess Perchta and her minions have the ability to alter people’s perceptions—to hypnotize ordinary people into doing what they say, or seeing things that aren’t real. Gilly, my main character, learns that when she’s touching iron—a horseshoe—she can see through their illusions.

That was all well and good, until I realized that Gilly couldn’t go around all the time with a horseshoe clutched in her hand. So I thought—what about horseshoe nails? They’re made of iron too, right? And Gilly’s hometown is surrounded by farms and horses. So I wrote a scene where Gilly goes to the local farrier and tells him that she has an art assignment to make jewelry out of repurposed objects, and she wants to make a necklace out of horseshoe nails.

Then I had to find out if it could really be done. I drove to McKee’s farrier supply shop in Newberg, OR and bought a box of horseshoe nails from an awesome woman named Carol Neely, who turned out to be an artist in her spare time. (I get to meet the coolest people during book research!) Then I went home, got out some pliers and started trying to bend the nails with my wimpy little writer hands. (That was not a total success.) The next step was the internet, where I found out that people much more talented than I (and with much stronger hands) make gorgeous jewelry out of horseshoe nails, including Connie Pardini at Wirestorm Creations, who kindly answered a lot of my questions.

Since this is a fantasy novel, I made Gilly both stronger and more talented than I am. In the story, she makes necklaces and bracelets out of the horseshoe nails, which she and her friends use to protect themselves from the demons’ illusions.

I liked the idea of Gilly taking ordinary objects and repurposing them into her own special protective gear—beautiful as well as functional. But I’m pretty sure if I ever need magical protection, I’m going to have to buy it on the internet!

Bitter Snow Series Description

“We are the rulers of Midwinter. In the most powerful cold of the winter, in the deepest dark of the year, we hold sway, and all of your hearth fires cannot stand against us. We are the winds that howl down the chimneys and extinguish your candles. We are the northern lights and the hungry wolves; the bitter crack of ice and the killing frost. The raging blizzard and the deep, soft, final sleep of those lost forever in the snow.”

Bitter Snow is a modern retelling of the fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” in nine novellas. It’s my all-time favorite fairy tale, about a girl’s quest to save her childhood friend from the evil Snow Queen, through her courage, determination, and the strength of her love for him. Each volume is about 80-90 pages (32,000 words). The next three installments are scheduled for release in spring/summer 2014, with the final three to follow later in the year.

Bitter Snow
Volume One
Lauren Sweet

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication:  December 5, 2013

Number of pages: 85
Word Count:  32,000

Cover Artist: Jeanne Gransee Barker

Book Description:

Whatever you do, don’t open the door.

All Gilly Breslin wants for her sixteenth birthday is for her best friend Kai to see her as more than just the girl next door he’s known forever. So when she receives a mysterious, romantic invitation to meet him at midnight, she knows she has to go. 

But it’s St. Nicholas’s Eve, the ancient festival of Bellsnichol, when demons roam the dark winter landscape. Tradition demands that everyone in the tiny town of Bremerton stay inside, doors shut tight against evil.

Gilly thinks it’s just a quaint old superstition. She has no idea that a malevolent power has been unleashed in Bremerton—with Kai as its target. But when she answers her door at midnight, her romantic date turns deadly…and she’s drawn into an ancient web of fear and darkness that threatens everything she loves.

Dark Solstice
Bitter Snow
Volume Two
Lauren Sweet

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication:  December 21, 2013

Number of pages: 85
Word Count:  32,000

Cover Artist: Jeanne Gransee Barker

Book Description:

On St. Nicholas’s Eve, the festival of Bellsnichol, Gilly Breslin opened her door to an ancient evil. A demon queen who’s slowly destroying Gilly’s best friend Kai—the only guy she’s ever loved.

But it’s not just Kai. Every guy who falls in love with the Snow Queen turns evil—and every guy who sees her falls in love with her.

Gilly’s only hope is to enlist the secret guardians of Bremerton, who may hold the key to banishing the Snow Queen and her minions. But with the town erupting in violence and the demons’ power increasing as the winter nights grow longer, she’s in a race against time to stop them before it’s too late.

Twelfth Night
Bitter Snow
Volume Three
Lauren Sweet

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication:  January 5, 2014

Number of pages: 85
Word Count:  32,000

Cover Artist: Jeanne Gransee Barker

Book Description:

Winter demons have invaded the tiny town of Bremerton, and sixteen-year-old Gilly Breslin is the only one who can banish them. The only problem is, she doesn’t know how.

Digging through the town’s historical archives, she and her friend Niko piece together clues to an ancient ritual to send the demons back to the dark realm they sprang from.

But the Snow Queen has plans of her own. Her power is greatest at the darkest time of the year, and her evil influence is spreading insidiously through the town, leaving Gilly wondering if there’s anyone left who can be trusted.

The demons must be banished by Twelfth Night, or the town will be lost. But to do it, Gilly may have to sacrifice everything that matters to her—including her soul.

About the Author:

I was born and raised in New Jersey, and books were a big part of my childhood. When I was about three and a half, I became obsessed with a Little Golden Book about a goat that gets a bucket stuck on its head. Since no one would read me the goat book as often as I wanted, I learned to read it myself—and haven’t stopped reading since. It was only inevitable that I turned to writing, so I could create more of the kind of stories that I like to read!

My favorite genres are mystery, sci-fi and paranormal/fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated by myths and fairy tales, and I love incorporating elements of ancient lore into modern stories. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and I currently live near Portland, OR, where I am a freelance writer and editor. My other esoteric skills include astrology, figure skating, and the ability to do a perfect split.

Twitter: @writerlaurens

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December 5 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home mom

December 6 Guest blog
The Book Landers 

December 9 Recipe for Mama's Monday Kitchen  and review
Cabin Goddess 

December 11 Interview
Skye Malone

December 12 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

December 13 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm

December 16 Spotlight
Howling Books and Design

December 17 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books

December 18 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books

December 19 spotlight
Soaring Eagle Publicity

December 20 Spotlight
Night Owl Reviews

December 20 Spotlight
Paranormal Romance Fans for Life

December 23 Spotlight
Book Liaison – 

December 23 Spotlight
Krystal's Enchanting Reads ... 

December 26 Guest blog
Magic and Mayhem

December 27 Interview and review
Nyxx's Nook

December 30 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair

December 30 Infamous Cabin Goddess Interview 
Cabin Goddess 

December 31 review 
Mythical Books

January 1 Spotlight and review
Corey's Book Reviews   

January 2 review
Who's Review – 

January 2 review
Fic Central 

January 3 Spotlight and review
Curse of the Bibliophile

January 3 review
Painted Words

January 6 Guest blog and review
Fictional Reality 

January 6 review
Tanyas Book Nook, 


Lauren Sweet said...

Hi Wenona--thanks for hosting me on your blog! I hope you and your readers reading about Gilly and how her necklace came to be.

Rebecca said...

I've read Bitter Snow, and it's fabulous! I highly recommend it to everyone here who enjoys a well-rendered setting, with interesting characters, and a fast-paced plot.

Lauren Sweet said...

Rebecca, thanks for coming by! I'm glad you enjoyed Bitter Snow--hope you enjoy the rest of the series as much!