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Sunday, February 8, 2015

How did February become associated with Hearts, Flowers and Valentines? (Repost)

(This is a repost from 2/1/14 with some changed graphics)

So, who was St. Valentine, and why do we celebrate him every February 14 with hearts and flowers? Well, to answer that question we have to go back to the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, commonly known as Claudius Gothicus.

Claudius reigned from 268 to 270.  Not a long reign, but a bloody one, because Claudius liked to wage war a lot.  During his two years, he fought successfully against the Alamanni and scored a crushing victory against the Goths at the Battle of Naissus.  It is possible Claudius gained his position and the respect of the soldiers by being physically strong and especially cruel. A legend tells of Claudius knocking out a horse's teeth with one punch. When Claudius performed as a wrestler in the 250s, he supposedly knocked out the teeth of his opponent when his genitalia had been grabbed in the match.

But I digress.... As legend has it, in the 3rd century, Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so, he outlawed marriage for young men (as soldiers were sparse at this time and he needed men to serve fearlessly in the army without the distraction of a wife or girlfriend making them homesick). However, Valentine, a priest serving near Rome, recognized the injustice of this decree and defied Claudius by continuing to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.. He was caught and imprisoned. While in prison, so the story goes, he may have fallen in love with the daughter of his jailer, and wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine." He was beheaded on February 14, around 270 A.D., and Pope Gelasius declared St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D.


So, Valentine was a true romantic at heart.  But how did the heart become linked with emotion? In China, the heart is related to thought, life, and emotions. It brings together everything from understanding and recognition to the flow of emotions. The Romans thought the heart contained the soul. Before them, ancient Egyptians believed the heart to be the center of emotions — and intellect. And before them all... pictures on cave walls depicted animals with red hearts in the center of their bodies — evidence that even cave dwellers understood the heart's significance.

However, the symbol we now associate as a heart, really doesn't look much like the human heart at all. That leads us to ask how we arrived at such a symbol to begin with.  According to Symbols.com (http://www.symbols.com/symbol/1809) "Specific suggestions include: the shape of the seed of the silphium plant, used in ancient times as an herbal contraceptive, and stylized depictions of features of the human female body, such as the female's buttocks, pubic mound, or spread vulva. A heart is not the only symbol for love."

Hmm.  Not sure the female buttocks to represent St. Valentine was what the church had in mind at all. And, since the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred, we may ask why do we associate February 14 with St. Valentine's Day?  Though some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

Romulus and Remus being suckled by the she wolf

The Roman festival began with members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathering at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. Once everyone was present, the priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. (Lovely, right?) Far from being fearful of the bloody whippings, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Fertility and marriage, a good combination.  Yup, that story makes me want to hop right into the car and buy a box of candy and a dozen roses.  You, too?

Back to history.  Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius (remember him?) declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that Valentine's Day should be a day for romance.


And we return again to the hearts and flowers decorating the greeting cards of Valentine's Day. Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written valentines didn't begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (I'm not sure what he wrote, exactly, but his poem is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Cards decorated with black and white pictures painted by factory workers began to be created in the early 1800s; by the end of the century, valentines were being made entirely by machine. Sociologists theorize that printed cards began to take the place of letters, particularly in Great Britain, because they were an easy way for people to express their feelings in a time when direct expression of emotions was not fashionable.


Manufactured cards notwithstanding, increasingly beautiful handmade Valentines were often small works of art, richly decorated with silk, satin or lace, flowers or feathers and even gold leaf. And many featured Cupid, the cherubic, be-winged son of Venus, and a natural Valentine's Day "mascot." Though Venus, Cupid and Psyche's story is too long to go into here, suffice it to say after many trials and errors they end up happily-ever-after, and we continue to celebrate their successful union in our Valentine's greetings today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guest Author - Ines Johnson discusses how to use "AIDA" to sell your books @ineswrites

Ines Johnson is on the guest couch today to discuss how to use the steps of the advertising formula AIDA to craft a book trailer. AIDA is a four step process that focuses on getting the viewers attention, holding their interest, playing on their desire, and finally telling them to act.  So, grab your favorite beverage and join us on the couch.  We're being very casual today.

Book trailers are visual depictions of a book’s storyline, sometimes made by fans, which are a great way to get readers enthused. But have you ever considered making a book commercial?

The purpose of a commercial advertisement is to persuade a potential buyer, or in an author’s case a reader, to purchase their product. Writing a commercial is a simple four step process known as AIDA.

Start by grabbing the audience’s ATTENTION with a startling statement and a provocative image. For my book commercial, I showed this image, while a male narrator said, “Women, are you tired of being responsible for your own orgasm?”

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Did that get your attention? Other ways of gaining the audience’s attention is to use humor, introduce a conflict, or use sound effects.

Next, you have to hold the audience’s INTEREST by giving them more information. Luckily, one of the most effective techniques for holding interest is one all fiction writers are familiar with: establishing conflict.

For my commercial, I went with, “Want a man who knows his way around a woman’s body? Then hire a Pleasure Hound.”

Image Credit: Yocla Designs & Shutterstock

Other techniques of holding interest are to use anecdotes, testimonials, statistics, or examples.

Now comes the tricky part: playing on the audience’s DESIRES. There are three types of desires: intellectual, moral, and emotional. As authors we most prevalently care about our reader’s emotional desires like love, belonging, and success.

For my commercial, I played on the desire of love and pleasure. My narrator makes some promises to women seeking out this product. “Our hounds are highly trained in the art of the elusive female orgasm. Using ancient techniques and rituals, a hound will bring you to heights of pleasure you’ve only dreamed about.”

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 Pinpoint a plot point or theme of your story with a great emotional impact. Target the way your readers think, behave, and make decisions. Playing on this will give them a reason to buy your book.

And finally, tell them what to do. Give them an ACTION, which of course would be to go buy your book! My book ad ends with my narrator telling readers to do just this. “To learn more about our services, pick up the book, The Pleasure Hound, out on sale December 9th. Hurry! Your climax is waiting for you.”

Image Credit: Yocla Designs & Shutterstock

Once you’ve got got the four steps of AIDA ready, you can start to storyboard your idea. A storyboard is a graphic depiction of what the audience will see and hear on the screen, using a series of panels much like a cartoon strip.

Most commercials are 30 - 60 seconds long. The rule of thumb in the media world is to use one frame for every five seconds of ad time. so plan to use 6-12 frames of the storyboard.

       

Now its your turn.
1.    Think up a way to get the audience’s Attention.
2.    How will you hold their Interest?
3.    What would motivate someone to do what you are requesting? Play to their desires.
4.    Now tell them what to do next in order to get what you’re “selling.” Make them Act.
5.    Storyboard your ad by selecting visuals to go with your AIDA steps.
6.    Put it all together using a video or image editor.
7.    Upload it to your social media outlets.

Stock Images

Below are a few places you can visit for royalty free stock images. I used Free Digital Photos.
     freedigitalphotos.net
     Favim.com
     Dreamstime.com
     Fotolia.coom
     Photobucket.com
     Clker.com
     MorgueFile.com
     Shutterstock.com

Stock Music and Sound
I found free sound clips at Partners in Rhyme. You can try these other sites too.
     Soundsnap.com
     FindSounds.com
     PartnersinRhyme.com
     Brainy Betty
     OpenMusicArchive.org
     Opsound.org
     ccMixter.org
     NeoSounds.com

“Pleasure Hound” BOOK AD


What starts as a simple ritual soon turns carnal when a monk falls for a young woman under his tutelage.

The Proposal


"I promise that the choice of mates will be yours," he continued. "And I hope..." He paused, uncertain, looking down at their joined hands.

Chanyn got the impression of Dain as a child asking for permission to have something he didn't think he deserved, but was desperate for it anyway.

"I hope," he began again, "that you will consider Khial and myself for a—"

"Yes!"

Dain startled at her response, then he smiled. "Good. I had hoped..." He squeezed their hands together. "This is good."

Chanyn's heart thudded in her exposed chest. She was sure Dain could see it. He gazed into her eyes. Was this it? Was her first kiss going to happen now?

Dain rubbed his thumb back and forth over her hand. His eyes dipped to her lips. Chanyn parted them in invitation.

Dain brought his eyes back up to her face, his eyes widening more as he looked at the desire clearly written on Chanyn's face.

Dain disentangled their fingers and patted her knee. "This is really good news," he repeated and then rose. "I'll make the arrangements today." He walked over to the large desk that took up most of the room.

"Arrangements? For the marriage?"

He glanced up. "Oh no, no. Arrangements for your training."

"Training?"

"Of course. With a Pleasure Hound."

Chanyn looked on, dumbfounded. He talked of marriage and then was about to get her some kind of dog to train. "A dog would be lovely, I suppose."

Dain laughed. "A Pleasure Hound is a man trained in the art of pleasing a woman." He said it as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

Chanyn shook her head. "I still don't understand. Why would I need another man to..." To what exactly? Have sex with her?

Dain came back around from the desk and sat next to her once more. He reached for her hand.

"Chanyn," he began. His face now sheepish. "I've never... been with a woman before. I wouldn't know the first thing to do to please you."

"But shouldn't we, you know, figure that out together?"

Dain looked scandalized. He reeled back from her. "I would likely hurt you. A Pleasure Hound is trained to find out what pleases individual women. Then they teach the woman's bonded mates those particular techniques. It’s an ancient tradition going back hundreds of years."

Chanyn still looked dubious.

"In our culture women rule. When we are bonded, everything that I have will essentially be yours."

Chanyn knew that in the twentieth century women fought for and earned a place in the government and the right to own many forms of business. But she hadn't a clue that the roles of men and women had shifted so completely on its axis in the past thousand years.


Blurb:

When Chanyn encounters the dashing Lord Dain, with his kind eyes and pure heart, she believes her dreams of love are finally coming true, until she meets with the roadblock that is her betrothed’s bondmate.

Khial can’t help but resent the young woman who comes into his love story to play the hero, but marriage to her may be the only way to save the man he loves.

A young monk is called upon to train Chanyn, Khial and Dain in the orgasmic arts. But what starts as a simple ritual soon turns carnal when the monk’s heart begins to yearn for Chanyn, and hers for his.

Amazon Purchase Link:

ISBN: 9780990922827 AISN: B00OYU2CYO



About the Author:

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!
Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Social Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23480179-the-pleasure-hound?from_search=true
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ineswrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ineswrites
Website: https://inesjohnson.wordpress.com/
Publisher: http://heartspell.com/