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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice!

Summer Solstice – More Than Just the First Day of Summer

In historical terms, the Solstice is the exact point of time when the daylight outstrips the night in length. That’s hard to reckon, particularly since the exact point in time depends on where you live. Why should that be?

Take a look at model of the solar system, specifically look at earth. If it’s properly oriented, then it’s a bit tilted, not straight up and down as you might think. Stand back a bit further, and you can see the earth doesn’t travel in a circle around the sun, but in a big oval called an ellipsis.


Since the Solstice varies when it occurs (anywhere between June 20th -23rd), most people won’t know exactly when the earth moves from Spring to Summer. Instead, a variety of festivals from different countries and people celebrate Midsummer. Fortunately, astronomers are available to let us know exactly when the solstice occurs.

This year the official time and date of the Summer Solstice is June 21ST at 5:24AM Greenwich Mean Time. But it was June 20TH, 9:24PM Pacific time. That's really the same "time," but not what your clock on the wall says.

Many cultures celebrate the Summer Solstice. A few of these celebrations are: Adonia, St. John's Feast Day, Jani, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Mittumaari, Alban Hefin, Gwyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, and Rasos. Oh, my. That’s a lot of celebrating! Wherever you live, you can have a party.

Another group of professionals other than astronomers who can tell you when the solstice occurs are witches. No, not the evil witches with warts and ugly noses, but the Wiccans who inhabit my books and Galdorheim Island in the Barents Sea. This is a fictional place, but is quite close to some very real islands in the Arctic with very real people who live on them.

Midsummer for Wiccans is called Litha. Just like every people who had some means to really look at the movement of the stars and planets Well, the earth is moving, but from where we stand, it appears the stars are the ones in motion. They are, but I’d refer you to Doctor Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the narrator of the Cosmos series, for exactly what’s going on in the universe.

In the second book of my Witches of Galdorheim series, “Midnight Oil,” the exact time the Solstice occurs is crucial to the plot. The magical midnight oil is a curative required by a tribe of mutant Nenets tribespeople to heal the radiation poisoning which deformed them. It must be administered at the exact time the Solstice occurs. The year I selected had to have that event occur (somewhere in the world) at almost precisely midnight on June 20th. Some confusion about the exact moment of the Solstice almost leads to the restorative oil to arrive late at its destination. After all, the Solstice usually occurs on the 21st (in this century).

A lot happens to thwart my heroes from delivering the oil on time and in good condition. An evil forest spirit happens to possess the oil. But this isn’t simply a “find the magical thing and deliver it” plot. There’s a lot going on in “Midnight Oil.” A kidnapped boyfriend, mutant tribesfolk, Ajatar the forest spirit, a man who was tragically disemvoweled (lost the ability to pronounce a, e, i, o, or u and sometimes y), a witch trapped on the lost island of Atlantis with the Loch Ness monster, and, um, there’s lots more to discover in the book.

So, back to Litha, the Wiccan midsummer celebration. One of the most famous places in the world to observe the Solstice is at Stonehenge in England, but only if the Solstice occurs during daylight hours (not this year). Nevertheless, the midsummer celebrations (June 25th) take place no matter what time the Solstice actually happens. Stonehenge would be a great place to party. 

Fun thing to do: Find out when the Solstice occurs where you live (compare your local time to Greenwich Meantime).

BAD SPELLING FREE on Smashwords
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.


MIDNIGHT OIL (see top of post)
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff.

When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

SCOTCH BROOM (See top of post)
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat's brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too. Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.

SPELLSLINGER (see top of post)
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.

That things will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament?

This prequel story to the Witches of Galdorheim series gives the reader a chance to get to know the smart-aleck kid, Rune, before he got his magic down pat.


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