Monday, October 18, 2010

Meet Nicole Zoltack

Hi everyone! Nicole Zoltack here.

I love to write different genres: fantasy/paranormal, romance, YA, horror, historical. I love doing research for my stories, whether it’s for a different time period or for a paranormal creature.

Because Halloween is almost here, I thought I would dig up some research on the history of this spooky tradition. In ancient times, Halloween was known as Samhain, meaning “summers end”, a ritual marking the end of the year, on October 31.

The Celts believed that on Samhaim, the barrier between this world and the afterworld was thinned to the extent that the dead could return to life, in the form of a black cat.

Villagers, many of whom wore costumes, went around asking for food (treats) to offer them up to the spirits. If the spirits were appeased, they would not bring harm (tricks) to their house. Huge bonfires were lit to keep evil spirits away.

After Christianity was formed, pagan holidays were turned into religious ones. Samhain became All Saints’ Day.

Remember the tricks the spirits played on the Celts if they weren’t given food? This tradition continued throughout the years. Starting in the 1920s, the tricks changed from being playful like soaping windows to destruction of private property and cruelty to people or animals. Around this time, some people start to revolt against Halloween.

As a result of the outcry, Halloween was essentially relauched as a holiday for children. Children would dress up in costumes and go from door to door and say, “trick-or-treat”, hoping for yummy candy.

But even this took a dark turn. Starting in the late 1960s and the 70s, parents became paranoid that the candy was contaminated with LSD or poison.

Halloween today is celebrated by both adults and children. The children still beg for treats while wearing costumes, while the adults dress up for parties with friends. There are also haunted houses to tour and pumpkin patches and corn mazes to explore. Halloween has been celebrated for roughly 3,000 years now. And I doubt this tradition will die anytime soon.

Lately I tend to wear Renaissance clothing, usually nobility gowns. Years ago, I’ve dressed as a witch, Pocahontas, a doctor. What have you dressed up as for Halloween? Or what are you planning on wearing this Halloween? Answer either comment and leave your email for a chance to win either Woman of Honor or Knight of Glory, fantasy romance ebooks.

Excerpt from Knight of Glory:

Geoffrey slept and woke a short time later. The others still slept, and Jacob paid him no heed. He slowly climbed to his feet and stretched his back. Turning, he spotted a small creature in the near distance. Walking toward it, he realized It looks like a lost pony. Its fur was grey black, and its main dripped constantly. The fur seemed sleek, and Geoffrey reached out to find out if this was the case. The pony was cold, deadly arctic, and Geoffrey's fingers froze to it, he was unable to move his hand away.

"No! Geoffrey, you have to stop touching it!" Jenanna cried out. She gripped his arm and tugged hard.

He tried to turn his head to look at her, but even his neck muscles tightened, frozen. "I can't move!"

Jenanna pulled and yanked some more, but Geoffrey could not be freed.

The Kelpie neighed, a loud sinister sound, and its saliva dripped, turning into ice as it left his foaming mouth. It blew air out its nostrils, the breath turning to fog, giving the land an eerie, unearthly feel.

Jacob and Raulin rushed over. They attacked the creature with their swords, but the horse bucked and kicked, and even with such wild, reckless movements, Geoffrey remained attached.

"Take this, foul creature!" Jenanna shrieked, shoving a flame tree branch into the creature's side.

The Kelpie wailed and neighed. With a sudden rush of heat, Geoffrey collapsed. A loud splash sounded as the three surrounded his fallen form.

"What was that?"

"Not now, Raulin! Now is the time for a larger fire. Build one," Jenanna commanded. "And you, Jacob, the healer, aye? Do you know how to heal freeze burns?"

Jacob's face looked stricken in the pale flickering firelight. "I can try."

"Try isn't good enough. You must succeed." She knelt down and placed Geoffrey's head in her lap. "It will be all right, Geoffrey."

"S-so c-cold." Geoffrey's teeth chattered so loudly he barely heard his own voice. His body shook uncontrollably, the chills spreading from his hand to the rest of his body, lowering his core body temperature and slowly freezing the blood in his body. "God's T-teeth!"

The fire roared to life, greedily licking up the small remnants of grass nearby. "Good, Raulin, now go fetch my blanket." Raulin didn't even pause to nod.

Jenanna grabbed Geoffrey's wounded hand and tried to warm it with her own. Her fingers felt red hot, compared to his iciness, and her fingers kneaded his skin. "Quick, Jacob."

Jacob nodded and began to mutter incantations. He placed his hand above Jenanna's and Geoffrey's, and a bright yellow orange glowed from his hand.

As the cold moved closer to his heart, Geoffrey's shivering worsened. His body buckled from the severe shock cold waves.

Raulin returned and threw the blanket on Geoffrey, but it did nothing to help the nearly frozen knight. Jacob's voice grew louder, and the light responded, turning brighter. Jenanna moved her hand away, and Jacob laid his on Geoffrey's. Immediately, Jacob pulled his own away. "Too cold. My God, he's frozen!"

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  1. Halloween for me (in England) was making paper witches to ride on broomsticks made from twigs; I associated the scent and the feel of treebark with it. Then we came to States and found a whole new world.

  2. Wow, that's really interesting, Sheila. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great post about Halloween. We always did the whole getting dressed in costumes and going trick-or-treating. I still would like to go trick-or-treating, but I guess at 28, I'm finally too old to do so. *sighs*

    As for costumes, I've typically gone as a black cat. I was the Pink Panther one year, though, in one of those horrible, old plastic costumes they used to make in the 80s. In my adult years, I've gone as a cat, a sorceress, a dead flapper, and a young Professor McGonagall. It's so much fun to get dressed up!

    Oh, and you don't have to add me to the contest, since I already have copies of Woman of Honor and Knight of Glory. Great books, by the way! Everyone should read them.

  4. We always decorate and carve pumpkins, but I haven't dressed up in awhile now. This year we are throwing a party for my teens and their friends. I'm thinking I could dress up a zombie:) We're having a bonfire, and food- I think a zombie serving mom would be cool.

    I love the history of Halloween- so many traditions changed over the years to fit what society deems more "civilized" :)

  5. LOL You could still go trick or treating, Cherie! Just find some kids to go with. I know some people that do that. And a dead flapper... that's a great costume idea!

    A zombie serving mom would be very cool! Thanks for dropping by, Moonsanity!

  6. I went as a sack of potatoes once. I have an odd sense of humor...and I think it showed. LOL

  7. How original! I love it, Margie. :)

  8. What fun tidbits about Halloween! I'm the worst Halloween mom ever. I can never think of fun costumes for my kids. Poor things.

  9. Aw! I have a few years yet before I have to think up creative costumes. I'm already planning for son #1 to be Super Why for Halloween next year.

  10. I suck as a mom I even have a degree in costume design and worked at it for `12 years and I have never made them anything LOL. AS for what I have dressed up as the sky is the limit, everything from vampires to Marie Antointte both with and with out the head.

  11. I made my kids' costumes and made them match all the time when they were little - Jasmine and Aladin, Esmerelda and Quasimodo, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, the devil and an angel. It was so fun. My hubby loves to dress up too. He was the church lady one year and Mr. Bill another and won prizes for both. I don't dress up much myself but love making costumes for others.


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