Interview with Sally Basmajian

I’m happy to welcome author Sally Basmajian. Today, Sally shares interesting details about her creative journey and new release, So Hard to Do.

Interview

What was your inspiration for your book?

In my writing group, we sometimes give each other prompts to encourage the creative flow of ideas. On one occasion, our assigned task was to write about an unconventional break-up. For no particular reason, I chose to make it a split between a mother and her adult daughter. Eventually, that scene became the opening hook for the novel.

A deeper inspiration came from the strong attachments I cherish, as a daughter and as a mom. I wanted to celebrate the mother/daughter bond in the book, even elevating it above the traditional romantic love connections that both my young and older heroines develop. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that some of the early Goodreads reviewers have commented favorably on this twist to the traditional rom-com approach!

What’s the best part of being an author? The worst?

When a reader tells me I made them laugh out loud, I feel my efforts have been worthwhile. Really, I’m aiming for is to provide people with much-needed diversion from the everyday trials of life. If I can help make their day brighter, I feel I’ve achieved my goal.

The worst part is letting someone down. A Goodreads reader wrote something along the lines of “I think she’s trying to be funny,” and it made me feel like an abject loser! If I failed to make her smile at least once or twice, I fear I haven’t done my job correctly. Fortunately, though, the vast majority of reviewers have appreciated my humor and cracked a grin, if not a hearty guffaw.

Describe your writing space.

I live in an eccentric house in the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The front of the house was built in the 1830s; the more livable back section in the early 2000s. My writing office is upstairs in the old part of the house, where the insulation is nonexistent. I freeze all winter and broil all summer! You can’t beat its charm, though. The ghosts up here are friendly, and I have an arsenal of fans and heaters that I deploy when the weather decides to go all Canadian on me!

Which authors have inspired you?

As a kid, I loved Lewis Carroll, and I can still recite most of “Jabberwocky.” Probably a lot of my love of the ridiculous can be traced back to the two Alice books, and to this very day, I am vigilant in shunning the frumious Bandersnatch!
In more recent years, I’ve been inspired by the fantastic Neil Gaiman, who tells stories like no one else, and Terry Pratchett, who makes me chuckle. In the rom-com category, it’s Sophie Kinsella, all the way!

Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?

I have so many! I religiously walk my dog—a sheltie that barks at virtually everything and still hasn’t learned that skunks are not his friends—around the gorgeous Niagara region. I encounter all kinds of chatty townspeople and the occasional wild animal, including a turkey that used to chase us down the parkway with murderous intent. I wrote a short story in his honor, but he was eventually offed by the local constabulary, poor bird. I also go to Line Dancing classes every week, and I even get called upon to lead a couple of the numbers. It brings out the martinet in me, and I find myself shouting orders at my co-dancers, as if our failure to perform “Uptown Funk” properly might result in permanent expulsion from the local community center. I golf three times a week in the summer, and never improve, but my teammates are amazingly supportive. Then there’s music—I was once an aspiring pianist, and I love to listen to music by Ravel, Chopin, and Bach. Oh, and so much more. It’s weird I write at all, come to think of it.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Visualize your success, however you define it—and don’t be discouraged by rejections. The important thing is to keep writing and submitting. Do listen to constructive feedback from people whose opinions you value, and apply what you learn. Then carry on! Even if you’re being rejected 90% of the time, you’re ahead of the game, according to the Duotrope stats. Just keep submitting.

Blurb

Suze Foster has always been devoted to her daughter. As a child, Jannie required extra support in school, but now-at age 29-she’s a rising executive. Suze, thrilled with Jannie’s success, is finally free to follow her own dreams.

Without Suze’s dedicated attention, though, Jannie flounders. In a careless moment, she floods her apartment. Enter our hero, Aram-her hot but significantly older neighbor.

He saves the day, and for Jannie, it’s love at first sight.

Not so much for Aram, though, who falls head over heels for Suze when they accidentally meet. Unaware of Jannie’s feelings, Suze is equally smitten.

In this twisted triangle, can a happily-ever-after be achieved? Or will someone’s heart break and the mother-daughter bond be severed forever?

Excerpt

He was the most good-looking man she’d ever seen. Luxuriant locks. She bet that’s how a Harlequin Romance would describe his hair. And under the full beard, maybe even a cleft chin. And most definitely, a sensuous lower lip. Ooh la la.

As she mused in an X-rated way about his mouth, Jannie remembered something from a book she’d read where the heroine had a habit of biting her lower lip. It drove men mad.

So she tried it. Nibble, nibble.

Aram just looked at her. His breathing didn’t accelerate. His chest didn’t heave.

She tried again. Nibble, nibble. The prolonged silence was beginning to be uncomfortable.

“Are you all right, Jannie?” Aram finally asked. He studied her.

Well, that hadn’t gone so well. But she’d never tried to flirt with an older man before. Maybe they needed something more obvious.

She attempted to look coyly up at Aram through her eyelashes. This wasn’t as easy as all those romance authors made it sound. She felt her forehead contract, her nose wrinkle and her upper lip pull away from her teeth in her effort to do the impossible.

“Jannie, are you having an allergic reaction? Shellfish, maybe? Isn’t that crab I smell coming from your condo? Do you carry an EpiPen?”

She stamped her foot in frustration. It was supposed to look fierce and cute, but she could tell from Aram’s face that he was way more startled than turned on.

Author Bio and Links

After leaving the corporate world, Sally Basmajian discovered the joy of writing. Her fiction and nonfiction stories have appeared in newspapers such as The Globe & Mail and in several anthologies. In 2022 she won prizes for memoir pieces (Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop, Gulf Coast Writers Association), and was thrilled to have a poem selected by the journal Antithesis. She expects to be busy in 2023, when her first two novels appear: in January, a light-hearted romance, So Hard to Do (published by Creative James Media) and in October, a much darker one, Fountain of Evil (Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC).

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | TikTok | Book Links | Amazon Buy Link

Giveaway

Sally Basmajian will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Sally on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

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One Good Choice After Another

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s a thought-provoking reflection from international speaker and bestselling author Joyce Meyer:

Are you enjoying the life and blessings of God in your everyday life? Or have you made a series of choices resulting in disappointment, pain, or feeling that everything you do requires great effort and produces little reward? Don’t spend your time and energy mourning all the bad decisions you have made; just start making good ones. There is hope for you!

The way to overcome the results of a series of bad choices is through a series of right choices. The only way to walk out of trouble is to do the opposite of whatever you did to get into trouble—one choice at a time. Maybe the circumstances of your life right now are the direct result of a series of bad choices you have made. You may be in debt because you have made a lot of bad choices with money. You may be lonely because of a series of bad choices in relationships or in the way you treat people. You may be sick because of a series of unhealthy choices: eating junk food, not getting enough rest, or abusing your body through working too much and not having enough balance in your life.

You cannot make a series of bad choices that result in significant problems and then make one good choice and expect the results of all those bad choices to go away. You did not get into deep trouble through one bad choice; you got into trouble through a series of bad choices. If you really want your life to change for the better, you will need to make one good choice after another, over a period of time, just as consistently as you made the negative choices that produced negative results.

No matter what kind of trouble or difficulty you find yourself in, you can still have a blessed life. You cannot do anything about what is behind you, but you can do a great deal about what lies ahead of you. God is a redeemer, and he will always give you another chance.

Source: Strength for Each Day by Joyce Meyer

Follow the Clues to Act 2

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

I’m happy to welcome author Darlene Dziomba. Today Darlene, shares her reinvention story and new release, Up Close And Pawsonal.

Here’s Darlene!

I am running the final lap of my first career act, thirty-four years working in Finance for the University of Pennsylvania. Working in Higher Education comes with some tremendous non-work benefits. Amongst them is that once you reach age fifty-five, if you have twenty years of work service, you can take retirement. It is not a retirement with a lifelong pension or lifelong paid medical benefits. However, I can buy health insurance at the University’s rate from the University providers. An essential requirement for my second act.

I reached the years of service long before I reached the age requirement, and I used the intervening years to assess options. It was vital for me that my second act be something I would enjoy. I had spent decades employed at a task for which I had an aptitude. Now I wanted work that would give me satisfaction.

I made a list of the top things I enjoyed: travelling; gardening; reading and talking about books; being around animals. Then I thought about what careers could include those things and what training I would need for those careers. I ruled out attending Veterinary School because of the time and financial commitments, but becoming certified to raise and train service dogs was an option.

I conducted a lot of research. I made a lot of lists. I spent a lot of time figuring out potential earnings and when I could realistically transition from my salaried job to a job where my earnings would be substantially less.

Then a friend and I went to Bouchercon in Toronto. We are huge mystery fans and have been to many Bouchercons. I was listening to a panel of authors talk about mysteries where the protagonists were pet groomers, pet sitters, and pet walkers, and this idea came to me. I was a volunteer at an animal shelter and learned a lot about shelter operations. I love animals and books. I decided to write a book where the protagonist works in an animal shelter.

Animals and talking about books were some of the things I enjoyed doing. I had been told all of my life that I am good at telling stories. I set out on my path.

I participated in a Writing Workshop to get feedback on my draft. I joined Sisters in Crime and took a dozen courses, listened to numerous webinars, and lurked on listservs following writers’ thoughts about the craft and the business of writing. I meekly asked friend after friend to read my drafts and give me feedback.

It took years to go from an idea to a finely crafted book. Then I spent years trying to obtain a literary agent while writing the second book in the series. I eventually decided to self-publish my work. In 2022 I self-published Clues From The Canines.

In March, 2023, I will publish Up Close And Pawsonal. I have planned out my publicity and promotions by applying all that I have learned in the past year from other self-published authors and the SinC Grand Canyon Writers Marketing and More Network.

My advice to those pondering a second act is to be open to exploration. Your second act may not be the first, the fifth, or the fifteenth thing you think of trying. You may get an idea that requires you to develop skills you have never used or to use your skills differently. Keep going. From “I wonder if I can write a book where the protagonist works in an animal shelter?” I arrived at published author.

I’ve had to work hard, and I’ve had to learn new skills. There have been times when I was frustrated. However, I have enjoyed learning to write and crafting the Lily Dreyfus series and enjoying what I do is my top priority in Act Two.

Blurb

A casual evening of listening to music by a local cover band turns into a murder investigation when a drive-by shooting destroys the tranquility of the night and critically injures two of the band members. Lily Dreyfus stressed and unsettled from having been at the concert, is informed that one of the dead band members is the nephew of her coworker at the Forever Friends Animal Shelter. Lily will leash together a set of seemingly unrelated events to seek the perpetrator and make them heel.

Author Bio and Links

Darlene is a member of Sisters in Crime National and several regional SinC groups. She combined her passion for the written word and animals into the Lily Dreyfus series. Darlene volunteers at the Animal Welfare Association, a New Jersey animal shelter, where she chats with the dogs while completing her assignments. She has a 30-year career in Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and is an avid reader, gardener, and traveler. Darlene lives in New Jersey with her four-legged best friend, Billie.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Email

Honoring Mayor Hazel McCallion

Earlier today, Hazel McCallion died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 101.

A businesswoman and politician, Ms. McCallion served as the mayor of Mississauga from 1978 until 2014. A successful candidate in twelve municipal elections, she was acclaimed twice and re-elected ten other times. One unsuccessful opponent compared running against her to “challenging somebody’s favorite grandmother.”

During her term in office, Mississauga grew from a small collection of towns and villages to one of Canada’s largest cities. Politically savvy and pragmatic, she ran government like a business. At one point in her mayoralty, ratepayers went an entire decade without seeing a property tax increase.

In 2011, geriatrician Dr. Barbara Clive assessed Madam Mayor and stated, “At 90, her gait is perfect, her speech is totally sharp, and she has the drive to still run this city. She’s the poster child for seniors.”

My favorite quotations from Mayor Hazel McCallion:

I could never toe the party line. I’d wear the carpet crossing the floor.

Think like a man, act like a lady, and work like a dog.

I am a joiner and always have been. I can tell you it works.

I’m not saying all seniors should be running a city or running a business, but I am saying seniors are good for a lot more than simply running a bath, baking cookies or babysitting grandchildren.

I say it the way it is. I don’t play around. That has been my success, in my opinion, for Mississauga.

I never had the opportunity to go to college or university myself; it wasn’t financially possible. But I really believe education is so important because the future of our Canadian economy is going to be brainpower.

I learned to do with little. And that’s why today, I only spend the taxpayers’ money like I spend my own, which is seldom. The people of Mississauga love that.

I’ve been called other things too, and some of them uncomplimentary and sexist like the “Queen of Sprawl,” “Attila the Hen,” “The Mom who runs Mississauga,” and the “Mississauga Rattler,” so it’s little wonder that my favorite nickname is Hurricane Hazel.

From Premier Doug Ford of Ontario:

“Hazel was the true definition of a public servant. There isn’t a single person who met Hazel who didn’t leave in awe of her force of personality. I count myself incredibly lucky to have called Hazel my friend over these past many years.”

Three Unfiltered Thoughts for a Tough Day

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email:

Sometimes I catch myself staring at people – studying their mannerisms and expressions. I wonder what their story is. What are they searching for? What makes their heart beat with happiness, with sorrow, with fear, with longing?

And then I ask myself, “What words might I write to inspire them, and to remind them that, even on the toughest of days, our hearts all beat for the same things?”

So today I figured I’d share a few of these unfiltered words with you…

1. Too often we work hard to disown the parts of our lives that were painful, difficult, or sad. But just as we can’t rip chapters out of a book and expect the story to still make sense, we can’t rip past chapters out of our lives and expect our lives to still make sense. Keep every chapter of your life intact, and keep on turning the pages. Sooner or later, you’ll get to a page that brings it all together and you’ll suddenly understand why every page and chapter before it was needed.

2. In those frustrating moments when you find yourself standing face to face with an issue you battled before – one bearing a lesson you were sure you had already learned – remember, repetition is not failure. Ask the waves, ask the leaves, ask the wind. Repetition is sometimes required to evolve and grow.

3. As you live and experience things, you must recognize what works and what doesn’t, what belongs and what doesn’t, and then let things go when you know you should. Not out of pride, inability, or arrogance, but simply because not everything is supposed to fit into your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were so you can become who you are…

Allow yourself to see something new, and discover something new.

Allow yourself to take up a lot of positive space in your own life.

Allow yourself to think better today…

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

Blurb Blitz: The Seafarer’s Bride

I’m happy to welcome award-winning Wild Rose Press author Laura Strickland. Today, Laura shares her new release, The Seafarer’s Bride.

Blurb

A year ago, Magnus Tolljursson helped repel a treacherous attack from his father’s enemies, and discovered he carries the berserker’s seed of madness. Now he must sail to the settlement from whence those attackers came, and fulfill a promise to a friend. He doesn’t know what he’ll find in Husavik and never suspects he may lose his heart.

In her father’s absence, Embra Fritisson has been engaged in a desperate battle to keep leadership of the settlement. When Magnus arrives saying her father is dead, she fears her unstable family will splinter into factions and destroy one another. She must retain control, but how can she hope to keep her head while falling in love with the enemy?

Excerpt

The walk to the great hall displayed Husavik’s splendor in full. The rain had cleared and new light slid in from the east—the direction of home—lighting the fine buildings. Such wealth displayed here! They knew nothing like it in Sorvagur.

As he went, he tried to calculate the number of raids it might have taken to amass such a fortune. The voyages launched. The lives spent.

Fadir traded. Their settlement had to, if they wanted to survive. Magnus had accompanied him on voyages and, ja, loved it. And things had become sticky a few times when deals had gone bad. But Fadir was an honest man.

Magnus feared he would have to employ a measure of deception here, if he wished to accomplish his aim.

He paused before the great hall. Last night, Mistress Embra had sent a messenger—an older servant—bidding him to meet her here early.

Well, early it was and—

The door swung open before him. “Come in.”

Not the servant but the lady herself.

Tall she was, this daughter of Friti Gunnarsson, though she might only reach Magnus’s ear. He outstripped his own father in height. This morning she wore her dull-gold hair only half braided with the rest of it spilling all the way down to her—well. As Magnus saw when she turned to lead him inside, she had a very nice bottom indeed.

Suddenly a vision flashed upon him—that of her standing naked before him, wrapped in naught but that curtain of hair.

By Odin’s eye, he dared not entertain such thoughts. Not now.

“I thought it best we meet early, Master Magnus, before any others of my siblings are astir. None of them tends to leave his or her bed early.”

“Ah.”

“And I wished the two of us to speak together as plainly as possible.”

She turned to face him. She wore a simple woolen dress like Modir usually wore, pale green with a white overdress. The fabric clung to her long limbs and emphasized her narrow waist. And a pair of breasts that—nei, they were not lush and heavy, like her sister Vanja’s. but ja, they would make two generous hands full.

He had to make sure this woman did not prove a distraction.

And yet—as she stood there facing him, did she not eye him with similar interest? With speculation? Ja, sure her gaze lingered on his shoulders and at other, more intimate places.

Author Bio and Links

Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, the latest being a little boy called Tinker, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura’s mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Book Bub

Giveaway

Laura Strickland will be awarding an ebook of the first book in the Viking Brides Series, The Berserker’s Bride, to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Laura on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Interview with Natalie Cross

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Natalie Cross. Today, Natalie shares interesting details about her creative journey and her new release,
Ballroom Blitz.

Interview

If You Had a Superpower, What Would It Be?

This is always so tricky to answer. I vacillate between invisibility (but not the creepy kind of invisibility, the cool kind where I could bust some sort of spy ring) and flying. Obviously, invisibility would have its drawbacks. I hope it wouldn’t become permanent, like in a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode. But it would be interesting to hear what other people are thinking and saying. Clearly, I am an eavesdropper at restaurants.

Flight would simply be fun. Except for avoiding the flight paths of other birds and insects aiming for your mouth. I imagine that would take some getting used to.

Describe your writing space.

In my house, where I live in serfdom under four and eight-year-old tyrants, I do not have a defined writing area. Typically I write at our kitchen island in the wee hours before the empresses wake and demand sliced bananas and/or bowls of sprinkles. I have the microwave to my left, the sink before me, and a pile of craft scraps or dried-out spikes of play dough on my right-hand side. The main benefit of writing in the kitchen is that I can drink as much tea as I want.

What was your inspiration for this book?

During year approximately 222,000 of the pandemic, I really needed an outlet. On a normal day, I balance a full-time demanding day job, helping my parents, and being a mom to my two young kids. When lockdown happened, I still had to go out to my day job as a first responder.

I needed a break. At night, after everyone had fallen asleep (finally, after much coaxing), I spent hours watching ballroom dance videos on YouTube. Before the pandemic, I had taken ballroom dance lessons on and off for almost twenty years. Now, without even the potential for lessons, at least I had YouTube.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, Anita Goodman, the main character in Ballroom Blitz, started talking to me. Not literally, though in quarantimes, things like that were entirely possible. But Anita kept appearing during quiet moments in my day. I dreamed about her and Patrick dancing, and choreographed parts of their story before I ever wrote a word.

Around this time, too, I was having a difficult time finishing projects. Evidence of my failures surrounded me at home: a half-knitted scarf in a bag, a folded pile of sheets that had been sitting out for three months, cleaning the house.

So I decided I needed to finish something, and since Anita wouldn’t stop talking to me about how much she liked Patrick, but wasn’t sure he felt the same way, I figured she deserved a chance to find out.

Since then, I’ve finished eight other drafts, two of which are also published (a Ballroom Blitz prequel entitled Ballroom Prom, and a standalone novella, Ballroom Blind Date). More will be published next year once they’re edited to my satisfaction. That half-knitted scarf still mocks me, but hey, cable patterns are tricky.

What Is Your Favorite Quote?

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” It’s from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and though it is not an accurate Latin translation, I’ve always appreciated the sentiment.

Margaret Atwood herself has said that it was a joke in her Latin class. I took Latin in high school, but we were never quite so witty.

What are you working on next?

Thank you for asking! I am currently in the editing stages for Ballroom Fever, the sequel to Ballroom Blitz, which hopefully will be out in 2023. I am also editing a standalone novella for a clean sports romance anthology that will be released November 2023, as well as two other standalone romances that might come out next year if I get them in shape in time.

The best way to keep track of what’s coming up is to join my mailing list. It’s a fun place. I share pictures of my dog, great books, freebies, and other fun things.

Blurb

In the glamorous world of ballroom, love and dancing do not always mix.

Professional dancer Anita Goodman has learned that lesson the hard way. With her studio and her reputation on the line, she has to take a chance on the last person she ever wanted to partner with: her best friend.

Patrick O’Leary has loved Anita since high school, but he has languished in the Friend Zone for long enough. He will take this last chance to prove to her that love is greater than winning.

Neither of them realizes that conquering their rising attraction won’t be their biggest obstacle. Someone does not want them to be together, and will stop at nothing to get their way.

Love, dance, and danger. It’s a Ballroom Blitz.

Excerpt

The ballroom still thrummed with the clack of heels and the slide of suede, though its last inhabitants had vanished over an hour before. Applause and cheering from the final night party echoed across the hallway. The tables were strewn with hair pins, empty water bottles, and sweaty towels tossed with exhilaration before another heat. The perfume of sunless tanner and hairspray drifted toward the apex of the ballroom’s ceiling, and it almost seemed that a few notes of a Viennese waltz still clung to the utilitarian white hotel tablecloths.

Rapid footsteps broke the waiting silence. Stilettos from the click click click, glimmering with crystals, a few of which scattered from the shoes with a brackish clatter as the heels struck the parquet of the ballroom floor. Heavy breathing, panting. “No!” A stumble as one heel of the red satin crystal-encrusted stilettos snapped. Sobbing.

Then another pair of footsteps, flats, fashionable. Something hard, with an edge that might draw blood. These footsteps were measured. No panic. No anxiety. Calculating.

The sobs intensified. “Please, please, please, no, I didn’t do anythi—”

A gurgle, a grimace, a thud. The wash of silk from a bone-white evening gown susurrated along the cold parquet floor. The scent of copper flooded the air.

A grunt, a vicious exhale, an audible sneer.

Then the ballroom closed upon itself again. The tables, the cloths, the chandeliers, the lights. All waiting for its new secret to be discovered.

Author Bio and Links

Love is an adventure.

Natalie writes romances and cozy mysteries featuring women who want to be seen and the men and women who cannot look away from them.

Natalie lives in Los Angeles, where writing is an acceptable way to avoid sunburn. She is mom to two lovely young munchkins who despise brushing their hair and eat way too much cake. She is unapologetically terrible at taking selfies.

Ballroom Blitz playlist available at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7LHlIjrZEKsD1aDyJAxLAU

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Giveaway

Natalie Cross will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Natalie on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Fear of the Number 13

For centuries, the number 13 has been associated with bad luck, especially if it falls on a Friday. Here are ten interesting facts about the origins and events related to this sinister prime:

1. Fear of the number 13 even has a name. It’s called triskaidekaphobia. Specific fear of Friday the 13th is referred to as friggatriskaidekaphobia. People suffering from these irrational fears can get treatment at the Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center in Pocopson, Pennsylvania. Treatment includes clever games, costumed hosts, anti-superstition music, and free educational literature.

2. Our fear of the number can be traced back to a biblical claim that if thirteen people share a meal at the same table, one of the diners will die within the year. Famous example: Jesus shared a meal with twelve of his disciples at the Last Supper.

3. Many people have an aversion to the number 13, including famous horror writer Stephen King. In 1984, King admitted to stepping over the 13th stair, feeling uncomfortable watching channel 13, and refusing to pause on page 13 while reading books. He included pages with digits that added up to 13, like page 85. He admitted, “It’s neurotic, sure. But it’s also safer.”

4. Several serial killers have 13-letter names, including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, Jack the Ripper, and Albert DeSalvo. So does Adolfus Hitler, which was Adolf Hitler’s baptismal name.

5. In some Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is considered bad luck. Tuesday is feared because it is the day of the week associated with Mars, the Roman god of war. The movie Friday the 13th was translated into Martes Tres (Tuesday the 13th) for its global release.

6. Taylor Swift considers 13 to be her lucky number. She was born on the 13th and turned 13 on Friday the 13th. Her first album went gold in 13 weeks, and her first #1 song had a 13-second introduction. Each time Taylor has won an award, she has sat in either the 13th row, 13th seat, 13th section, or row M, which is the thirteenth letter.

7. The following celebrities were born on Friday the 13th: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christopher Plummer, Kate Walsh, Frances Conroy, Steve Buscemi, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Born on an unlucky day hasn’t hampered their careers.

8. In 1882, Captain William Fowler founded the 13 Club of New York, a secret supper club that continued its meetings throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Its first meeting included 13 courses, was lit by 13 candles, and was attended by 13 people. Members performed unlucky feats such as passing under a ladder and tipping over salt containers on the table. Honorary members included Presidents Chester A Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and Theodore Roosevelt.

9. An alleged occurrence…Mark Twain was once invited as the 13th guest at a dinner party. He went, despite a friend’s warning. Later, Twain reported, “It was bad luck. They only had food for 12.”

10. Motorcyclists gather each Friday the 13th in Port Dover, Ontario (Canada) for rallies that draw thousands of participants. Described as “the biggest single-day motorcycle event in the world,” its summer attendance exceeds 100,000 bikers. This tradition dates back to 1981.