Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Hearts Through History’s Pitchfest

NWH RF typewriter 2Hearts Through History is pleased to host our first ever Pitchfest. This is a unique and exclusive opportunity for members of the Hearts Through History RWA chapter to pitch blurbs and the first 200 words of unpublished manuscripts to industry professionals.

We welcome editors Erin Molta and Robin Haseltine of Entangled Publishing. Thank you for taking the time to visit Hearts Through History and read our pitches. We hope you will find something you like. Happy Pitch Shopping!


 

#1
Title: Celestina’s Burning
Genre/Subgenre: Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 100,000

Italia 1492

Bong.
Celestina DiCapria jumped, the marble bowl of crisp biscotti almost flying out of her hands. The moan of Montanina, the mammoth black bell in the Tower of Boscoli, echoed through the city of Florence. One strike signaled a beheading was to take place in the prison courtyard.

Bong. Two meant a heretic was set to burn in the Palazzo della Signoria.

Bong. The tail end of the sound hung in the air. Three clangs were rare. Three clangs were a call to arms for the youth to rise against a new tyranny.

“Madre mia.” Celestina set the cookie bowl on the bakery counter. “Mother of God, Montanina is calling me.”

In the room behind her there was a thump. She rolled her eyes. Batting a thick rope of dough against the worktable was her grandmother Simona’s way of making a point. “Forget about that bell. Start more biscotti.”

The hairs on Celestina’s arms stood like an army of Cypress trees. She hated it when Simona shouted at her from the back room.

Outside there was a pop. Celestina dashed to the window. A black dress burned on a stake in the center of the street.

#2
Title: This Is Us
Genre/Subgenre: Historical/WWII
Word count of Manuscript: 105,000

Sneaking into an Army Air Force pilot school to take up one of the planes was maybe not the best idea. After all, there was a war on. The place was literally teeming with uniformed men.
It wasn’t Vivian’s idea. She wasn’t even the pilot. Her friend Zanna needed to log more flying hours, and she wanted company in this escapade. So, here they were.

Dressed in men’s flight coveralls and boots, their curls hidden beneath aviator helmets, the women crouched behind a clump of bushes on the side of the barracks, waiting for a clear shot to the flight line.

“We’re gonna have to just try to blend in. Hank’ll be meeting us in five minutes. Besides, we look like regular cadets,” Zanna said. Zanna’s brother Hank, one of the flight instructors, had arranged clearance for their flight with a buddy in the control tower.

“Cadets with boobies and no facial hair. I’m sure that won’t draw any attention at all on a base with hundreds of men,” Vivian said.

“Just look purposeful. Hank will walk us to the flight line, and then we’ll get in a plane and be on our way. Easy-peasy.”

Except this wasn’t like usual.


#3
Title: The House Carpenter
Genre/Subgenre: Historical/Civil War
Word count of Manuscript: 85,000

Lilly Roberre shook her hand free from Gideon’s and turned to watch the train rumble into the Philadelphia Baltimore depot. A whistle screeched. Bells clanged. Soot stung her eyes and made them water. She wiped the wetness away with the sleeve of her best dress, the cream silk she had sewn for her wedding. It would be ruined. But what did she care? He was leaving. There’d be no wedding.

“Please. Forgive me.” Gideon put a hand on her shoulder and brought her around to face him.
She peered up into eyes as gray as the rain clouds above—a farm boy, turned stranger, in his uniform of Union blue. Ignoring the hundreds of people around them, she ran her fingers along his smooth-shaven cheek. The man she loved was the least likely of soldiers—a dreamer, not a fighter—and he was leaving for war and might never come back. She stood on her toes to kiss him one last time.

Their lips joined and melded together. The length of his body pressed against hers, his heart thumping wildly. Longing burned through the layers of cloth separating them. The world stood still, and all her regrets scattered like the smoke rising from the huffing engine.

#4
Title: Tangled Up in You
Genre/Subgenre: American Historical, non-western
Word count of Manuscript: 89,000

Missouri Territory
April 22, 1840

Nothing in Mercy Hallowell’s years with the finest tutors of New Haven, Connecticut, nor her stint in a New Orleans finishing school, had taught her how a woman in danger should navigate the world. A hasty escape from St. Louis, disguised as a young man, a river rat more precisely, had succeeded well enough in daylight, so long as she held at a distance any person who might spy the woman beneath the disguise. Even in the confines of a steamboat under the shadows of night she kept faith in the protection of her disguise. That faith vanished at the thought of entering the warm, dry and entirely masculine domain of the gentlemen’s cabin.

She stared out at the rain, pounding with enough ferocity on the deck to splash her pantaloons though she stood against the wall beneath the ample eave, another reminder of how her luck had run out. Reaching inside her coat, tucking her hand beneath her vest, she dug her fingernails into an itch. The boy’s clothes, allowing her more freedom in movement, were made of cheap fabric that abused her skin. A flash of lightening crossed the night sky, exposing her.

#5
Title: Lord James’ Challenge
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Romance
Word count of Manuscript: 80,000

Lieutenant Lord James Forster stood at attention before the board of inquiry and wished to hell that someone would start a war. Any time now would be fine. In fact, right now would be perfect.

The admirals ranged across the table from him like a line of battleships with all flags flying. They must have been born elderly. Otherwise, they would have had understood what it felt like to make a tiny error from over-exuberance. This dim room fitted them perfectly; it reeked of tradition. He could almost smell the whale oil and pomade from wigs worn in centuries past. The lone sunbeam that had strayed in through the window did nothing to lighten the atmosphere—even the damned dust motes circled the sunbeam in a stately manner.

“Well?” A stern voice rang out from the darkness across the table. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

What the hell. He took a deep breath. “My lords. The fireworks display might have started precipitately. If there had been adequate precautions against fire, there would have been little property damage.”

He spread out his hands in a gesture of appeal. “And it was only a minor consulate, really.”

#6
Title: Dance With Destiny
Genre/Subgenre: American Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 70,000

Susannah Myers pummeled her husband’s shoulders as her lips pressed together in a tight, angry line. “Running off to war and leaving me alone to care for our four little ones is not right. I can’t do this on my own. How will we ever survive? We are only good if we can face our hardships together.”

William took hold of her hands and stilled them. He kissed her callused fingers and then grazed her lips. She stopped fighting him and laid her head on her husband’s broad shoulder, letting her hot tears fall.

“It’ll only be for a few months, Susannah. Summer’s coming on, so it won’t be so hard for you to get by. There are plenty of chickens for food and eggs, I’ve stocked the smoke house with deer, and Jacob can start on the planting, so you’ll have potatoes and fresh vegetables. I have no choice as to whether I stay or go. I have to volunteer. Daniel was out here just the other day to make sure I’d sign up.”

Susannah straightened up and took a deep breath. She moved away from him, trying to distance herself from the feeling of abandonment. To get used to the feeling of abandonment.

#7
Title: Rebel Girl
Genre/Subgenre: YA Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 35,000

“Over here, Red. I’m in need of more drink.”

Kathleen O’Malley turned toward the person who had issued the order, although she didn’t need to. There was only one man in this tavern who thought he owned the place. Owned her. British General Aloysius Broadman.

Kathleen tried to affix a smile on her face before she arrived at General Broadman’s table. And almost got there. As she reached across the table to pour more ale into his mug, he pinched her bottom. She jumped and her aim faltered, spilling ale all over the table, and onto the general’s uniform. She clamped a hand over her mouth and backed away, eyes wide.

“Beggin’ your pardon, General.” She handed him a napkin.

He snapped it from her hands and wiped away the liquid from his front. His beady eyes grew even smaller, reminding her of one of the rats who lived behind the tavern.

“You ignorant Irish lout. You did this on purpose. I’ll tan your backside for it.”

He reached out and grabbed one of her pigtails, pulling her toward him.

Out of nowhere, a tall, handsome man appeared at the table and removed the general’s hand from Kathleen’s hair.

#8
Title: Gold Lust Conspiracy
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Romance
Word count of Manuscript: 106,000

It was a gorgeous day in May, 1880, the kind of day inspiring hope, the kind you can get lost in. It was the first day Jessie Blackstone dared to dream. Love was a dangerous, intriguing illusion dangled in her face, so she was pursuing it. She didn’t deserve it but she had a shot at happiness. She was taking it. Mama, be damned!

Jessie entered the secluded ‘personals’ closet on the steam engine train, did her business and exited to return to her seat.

Swish! Hot outside air assaulted Jessie. The connecting door between cars had opened and closed. Before she could turn to see who entered, rough hands gripped her shoulders. The intruder spun Jessie around, slamming her against the wall. Stunned, Jessie blinked. A gasp caught in her throat. Her heart skipped a beat. She shook her head clearing her vision.

“What in tarnation!”

A burly man in soiled deerskin leaned into Jessie. A wicked grin exposed what was left of rotting teeth.

Yuck! An array of revolting odors assaulted her, the stench of perspiration and something….dried blood and urine? Smothering steamy breath reeked of cheap whiskey and decay. Jessie shivered despite the hot weather.

#9
Title: Stormy Hawkins
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Western
Word count of Manuscript: 67,000

Shick–chick.

Startled out of his dreamless sleep, Blade Masters jerked his Stetson off his face and stared into the mouth of two cold steel barrels.

“On your feet, mister,” a sultry voice ordered. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”

Blade drew a quick breath of relief. Female bandits plying the Missouri River usually wanted money, not blood. Still, he’d not expected to be robbed at dawn on the windswept prairie.

The rising sun silhouetted his attacker, and he was hit with another surprise. Instead of black petticoats and lacy neck chokers, this brigand wore denims and a faded boy’s shirt. A battered, wide-brimmed leather hat topped braids as red as a St. Louis firepumper.

She held the shotgun steady as he clambered to his feet, took a half step forward and extended his hand. “Name’s Blade, ma’am. I’m looking for the owner of this fine property.”

“And I’m a can–can dancer,” she scoffed. “You bank boys know darn well this is Hawkins Ranch land.” Pride, as well as possession, rang out in her voice.

Quickly, he assessed what she’d just revealed. She was in financial trouble, and the Hawkins Ranch was big.

#10
Title: Silver Sky at Dawn (Silver Sky Ranch Saga #1)
Genre/Subgenre: Western Small Town
Word count of Manuscript: 53,500 words

Lorena Bernhardt is certain of only two things: her cheating husband’s refusal to change his ways and her undying love for her two children. If Lorena and her children can escape their war-zone of a home with their lives, she knows they can survive anything.

Danny Silver Sky’s heart refuses to heal as he lives everyday with the memory of his late wife on the Oregon cattle ranch he built for her. However, when an icy accident brings Lorena crashing into his life, something rekindles in his broken spirit.

Despite resistance from the women and Danny’s life and the constant worry of Lorena’s ex-husband finding her, can Lorena and Danny leave their unwilling pasts behind in hopes of a future together on Silver Sky Ranch?

#11
Title: The Rake Who Wed Me
Genre/Subgenre: Regency
Word count of Manuscript: 50,000

Algernon Saye, Lord Severn, straightened up from his half-lounge on the ottomane couch, for Marrack’s widow was entering the salon. A tight bodice holding her generous bosom drew his eye. It was a dark affair, with lace that lay against flawless skin. Her skirt flowed beneath it, made of some silvery spangled stuff that clung to her slender hips and long legs.

“Delicious armful, eh, Gerry?”

Severn smiled. Viscount Garland, one of his two rakish companions on the couch, was a noted connoisseur of widows.

The other, Baron Blackpool, was more direct. “Hunt over Marrack territory by day and sport in the widow’s bed at night—not a bad prospect.”

While she exchanged greetings with the hostess, the older man on her arm raised his quizzing glass in the direction of the ottomane couch. Severn acknowledged the gentleman’s regard with a nod and was completely ignored.

But not by Mrs. Marrack.

“Careful, Gerry,” Blackpool murmured, “she’s buried one rake already—and Jack Marrack was a nasty piece of work.”

He scarcely heard, for Mad Jack’s widow was coming nearer, the curve of her full lips enhanced by a pair of sparkling gray-blue eyes—and a question wrinkling her delicate brow.


 

Check back for updates to see which pitches caught the eye of the editors.

Good luck to all who pitched!


 UPDATE!

Entries #1, #4, #5, #9, #10, & #11 all received requests for FULL manuscripts from three different editors at Entangled Publishing. Partials were requested from the other submissions. Congratulations to all! Here’s hoping for future book deals.

 

Monthly Member Spotlight: Alanna Lucas

HHRWspotlight_AlannaPlease help me welcome multi-published member, Alanna Lucas, into the spotlight this month!

Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

I grew up in Southern California, but always dreamed of distant lands and bygone eras. From an early age, I took an interest in history and travel, and am thrilled to incorporate those diversions into my writing. I write Regency and Western historical romance.

When I’m not daydreaming of my next travel destination I can be found researching, spending time with family, or going for long walks. I make my home in California with my husband, children, one sweet dog, and hundreds of books.

Just for the record, you can never have too many shoes, handbags, or books. And travel is a must.

What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?author pic

I find history fascinating and it seemed natural to write what I love. Plus, I love to research (which can also be a problem at times).

If you could time travel, what era would you visit?

It would be difficult for me to choose just one time period. However, at the top of my list would be Italy during the Renaissance. I would have loved to be an apprentice to Michelangelo.

Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?

I adore Sabrina Jeffries! She is such a talented writer and an amazing person.

Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a panster, or somewhere in the middle?

I am an organized panster. I always begin by journaling character names, scene ideas, and sketch anything that stirs my imagination. The journal goes everywhere with me. Once I have a clear picture in mind, I begin to write- sadly, never in chronological order.

My daily writing routine varies depending on kids activities and real-life obligations, but I am always thinking about the story.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? 175Face-to-FaceFINAL

While at the 2013 California Dreamin’ conference, I learned that Boroughs Publishing Group was hosting the ‘What’s in a Name’ novella contest. I thought about entering, but did not have a novella completed (or even started), and I was leaving the country to visit family. A month later, I still did not have anything written down (but had had a wonderful time visiting my family) and the deadline was five weeks away.

One day while listening to Face to Face by Siouxsie and the Banshees inspiration struck. I sat down and just wrote. It was unlike any other project I had tackled previously. I finished the novella and a two paragraph synopsis with a couple of days to spare- talk about cutting it close!

500Waltzing-with-the-EarlTell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you. 

Waltzing with the Earl is the last book in the In His Arms series. I was a little sad to finish the series, but ecstatic to start a new venture. I am currently “plotting” a couple of ideas. Stand by for some fun and excitement in the Regency 😉

What’s the hardest part of writing?

Time. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do!

Thanks for stepping into the spotlight this month, Alanna! To find out more about Alanna, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Unpublished or published members, would you like to be featured in the member spotlight? Just drop me a line at christy@christycarlyle.com!

Monthly Member Spotlight: Callie Hutton

calliehuttonspotlightWe’re starting a new spotlight feature on the HHRW blog, and hope to feature a member on the last Friday of each month. To kick things off, please help me welcome Callie Hutton!

Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

USA Today best selling author of The Elusive Wife, Callie Hutton writes both Western Historical and Regency romance, with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews).  Callie lives in Oklahoma with several rescue dogs, her daughter, son, daughter-in-law, twin grandbabies (thankfully all not in the same house), and her top cheerleader husband of thirty-nine years. Callie loves to hear from readers, and would welcome you as a friend on Facebook. callie

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I’m a full time writer.

What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?

I was a history major in college and love anything historical.

What’s your favorite historical movie?

Gone With the Wind

If you could time travel, what era would you visit?

The 1880s. That’s my favorite time period in London, New York City and the Old West.

Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

I allow myself about a week for research and planning. I have already outlined the story for my editor, so I have a general idea of what I need to know. Then I fill out a binder with character sketches, family backgrounds, if it’s part of a series, I’ll add the spreadsheet with dates of birth, ages, who married who, names of children born, etc. for that series. I also add drawings of rooms and buildings, clothing, etc., that I’ll use. If there is a dinner party, I draw the table and figure where each person sits. Next I add pages to the binder with my turning points in the story, along with the dark moment and resolution. Then I use a white board to outline each chapter with bullet points.

Yes, I am a plotter, but started out as a panster. For me, I found I needed the plotting to write a better book.

THAM1600 (1)Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you. 

My last release was The Highlander’s Accidental Marriage from Entangled Publishing. Right now I’m working on the final book in that series, The Earl’s Return.  Well, almost final. My editor and I agreed on a Christmas novella for the mother in the series who is widowed, and finds another true love. That one is The Christmas Wager.

What’s the hardest part of writing?

Marketing. If I could just write books and send them off and not worry about all the social media and stuff that goes with it, I would be a very happy camper.

Thanks for being our first member in the spotlight, Callie! To find out more about Callie, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook


Want to be featured in the member spotlight? Just drop me a line at christy@christycarlyle.com!

Flame-Haired Pharaohs & the Desert of Death

The title for this post sounds like a good book title, but in fact, I’m referring to historical facts about ancient Egypt. Who were these flame-haired pharaohs? What is the desert of death? Read on to learn the surprising answers.

The stereotypical image of an Egyptian pharaoh depicts him black-haired and bronze-skinned. These ideas arose from two aspects of Egyptian life in ancient times: 1) many people, particularly the elites, wore black wigs; and 2) they spent a lot of time outdoors, which tanned their skin. Tomb paintings and scroll artwork provide the most copious evidence of what ancient Egyptians looked like, and those sources show tanned men wearing dark wigs. Men were painted with red skin to represent their sun-bronzed skin; women were painted with yellow skin to indicate they spent less time outdoors and thus had lighter skin. Women took charge of the home, while men worked the fields.

Ramses II's mummy

The mummified head of Ramses II, photographed by Emil Brugsch in 1889. Public domain image.

But the artwork that’s survived thousands of years fails to tell the whole story. For the rest, Egyptologists must turn to experts in the field of paleopathology–the study of the physical remains of ancient people. With ancient Egypt, mummies provide the best evidence. In her book Conversations with Mummies, paleopathologist Rosalie David relates the story of when the mummy of Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great) was refurbished by Parisian experts between 1976 and 1977, to protect the already damaged remains from decaying any further. During their examination, the French experts discovered something surprising. Ramses’s hair had been dyed red when he died because it had, naturally, turned gray; however, he had been born with red hair. It was dyed to restore his original color.

Today, in most western nations red symbolizes passion and romance, and also our life essence in the form of red blood. To the ancient inhabitants of Egypt, however, the color red (desheret) represented far different concepts. They associated the color with the god Seth (or Set), known to the Greeks as Sethos. Seth embodied discord and chaos, as well as male sexuality. Red also symbolized the vast and ruthless red desert that surrounded the rich, black (kem) soil along the Nile. Because of the desert’s dangers, and the importance of the setting sun in Egyptian mythology, the western desert became associated with death and the afterlife.

The association of red with Seth led parents of red-headed babies to give them names honoring the god, such as Setka or Seti. Ramses II’s father was named Seti because, like his son, he sported a head of fiery-red hair. To be named after the god of chaos may seem strange, but to the Egyptians chaos was a necessary element for keeping the universe in balance. Given that Seth also embodied male sexuality, Seti must’ve felt pretty good about bearing the god’s name!

The next time you draw a red heart to illustrate your fondness for your significant other, take a moment to consider what the color meant to the ancient Egyptians. To them, the heart was the seat of intellect and emotion, but desheret carried an altogether different connotation. Since kem represented fertility, maybe you’ll want to draw a black heart instead. Hmm…On second thought, better not!


AnnaDurand


Anna Durand is an HHRW member, an award-winning writer, a freelance librarian, and an audiobook addict. She specializes in steamy romances featuring spunky heroines and hunky heroes. As a member of Romance Writers of America, she volunteers for its chapters to give back to the romance community. In her previous life as a librarian, she haunted the stacks of public libraries but never met any hot vampires hunting for magical books. Her latest release is Tempted by a Kiss, an erotic contemporary romance published by The Wild Rose Press.

Learn more about Anna and her books, and read her Spunk & Hunks blog, on her website at AnnaDurand.com.

Double, double, toll and trouble …

… Fire burn and brimstone bubble. Witches and witchcraft date back through the ages to when people worshipped the Mother Earth or nature goddess. It was a time before traditional religion when the unexplained was called magical and people with unique talents were special.  The Old Religion which existed since the Stone Age was far from evil. These people were connected with the seasons, the plants, the animals and the planet and sought a balanced life. These special people were seers, knowers, healers, and averters of evil.

witchesOver the centuries the nature goddess was replaced by more traditional religions and practices. The word witch only took on a negative meaning with the coming of Christianity, which taught that all the heathen gods were devils. And by association, anyone who clung to the old ways and the Old Religion was a devil worshipper.

The real roots of witchcraft and magic appear to come from the Celts, a diverse group of Iron Age tribal societies which flourished between about 700 BC and 100 AD in northern Europe.  The Celts were a brilliant and dynamic people, gifted artists, musicians, storytellers, and metalworkers, as well as expert farmers and fierce warriors much feared by the Romans.

They were also a deeply spiritual people and believed in the many gods associated with Mother Earth, the Divine Creator.  By about 350 BC, a priestly class known as the Druids had developed. They became the priests of the Celtic religion as well as teachers, judges, astrologers, healers, midwives and bards.

The religious beliefs and practices of the Celts, their love for the land, and their reverence of trees (the oak in particular) grew into what later became known as Paganism. Blended over several centuries with the beliefs and rituals of other societies, practices such as concocting potions and ointments, casting spells and performing works of magic, all of which (along with many of the nature-based beliefs held by the Celts and other groups) developed and became known as witchcraft in the Medieval Period.

There are many types of witches. The witchcraft of the Picts, the early inhabitants of what is now the Scottish Highlands, goes far back and differs from all the other types of witchcraft in Europe. This is Old Scotland and its history and legends are filled with stories of magickal workings, spells and charms. There are charms performed to increase farm production, to ensure a favorable wind for fishermen. Some seamen walked around a large monolith stone seven times to encourage a good trip/catch. Other people created charms such as the woodbine wreath. They would cut down woodbine (a form of honeysuckle) in March during the waxing moon (anytime between new moon and full moon) and twist the boughs into large wreaths. They kept the wreath for a year and a day.  Young children suffering from a fever would be passed through the wreaths three times to be cured.

Old superstitions have a strong hold on people. There are hints of the ‘old ways’ even today. Some in Scotland carry a lucky penny or ‘peighinn pisich’ that they turn over three times at the first glimpse of a full moon.

There are many cases of Witchcraft throughout Scottish history, demonstrating the zeal of the Protestants and Catholics alike, in their paranoia over possible “servants of the devil.” The vast majority of Scottish Witches practiced as Solitaries (alone without a coven), only occasionally coming together for special celebrations.

Witchcraft was first made legally punishable, in Scotland, by an Act passed by the Scottish Parliament, in 1563 during the reign of Mary. Witch hunts swept through Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and were fed by a mixture of superstition, religious fever, political motivation and general suspicion. No one was safe, not the peasant not the nobleman. Storms, diseases, and misfortunes had to be blamed on something or someone—witches were an easy target.

witches 2Types of witches

Kitchen Witch: Practices by home and hearth, mainly dealing with practical sides of the religion, magick, the elements, and the earth.

Ceremonial Witchcraft: Mainly use ceremonial magick in their practices such as Kabbalistic magick or Egyptian magick.

Satanic Witch: This doesn’t exist. Why? Contrary to the witch hunts of Europe and America, witches don’t believe in Satan.

Celtic Wicca: Believe in the elements, the Ancient Ones, and nature. They are usually healers. They work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the elemental people, the gnomes, and the fairies.

Eclectic Witch: These witches don’t follow a particular religion or tradition. They study and learn from many different systems and use what works best for them.

British Traditional Witch: A mix of Celtic and Gardenarian beliefs. They train through a degree process and the covens are usually co-ed.

Alexandrian Tradition: They are said to be modified Gardenarian.

Gardenarian Tradition: Follow a structure rooted in ceremony and practice. They aren’t as vocal as others and have a fairly foundational set of customs.

Dianic Tradition: A compilation of many different traditions rolled into one. Their prime focus is the Goddess. It is the more feminist side of ‘The Craft’.

Pictish Witchcraft: It’s originally from Scotland and is a solitary form of The Craft. It is more magickal in nature than it is in religion.

Hereditary Witch: Someone who has been taught the ‘Old Religion’ through the generations of their family.

Caledonii Tradition: Also known as the Hecatine Tradition, it has its roots in Scotland.

Pow-Wow: Comes from South Central Pennsylvania and is a system based on a 400 year old Elite German magick. They concentrate on simple faith healing.

Solitary Witch: Any witch who practices alone, without a coven.

Strega Witches: Originally from Italy this group is known to be the smallest group in the US. It is said their craft is wise and beautiful.

Witches broom

Was It An Arranged Marriage?

Wedding ringsMy parents came from very similar backgrounds, Eastern European. My Mom’s family was from Rovna, Ukraine and immigrated here in 1900. Mom was born in New York City in 1908. My Dad’s family is from Snovsk, Ukraine and immigrated to the United States in 1910, when Dad was six.

I’ve been thinking about my parents. Two weeks ago would have been their 86th wedding anniversary. Both of them are gone but certainly not forgotten. I always found the story of how they met and married a bit of a romantic comedy. Their families came from the same vicinity, near Kiev. But it wasn’t until they were young adults that my Mom, Jessie, and Dad, Aaron, meet.

Both my grandmothers were single parents. Their husbands were victims of the 1918 flu pandemic. My maternal grandmother, Ida, was a piece goods worker hemming pant cuffs and shortening sleeves. My paternal grandmother, Mary, had a small grocery store.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Catskills in upstate New York had bungalow colonies where families would go to get out of the city for a week’s vacation in the summer. This is where my parents met. While my mother denied it and my father stayed very quiet, Mom’s brother, Uncle Jay, swears their marriage was arranged.

Mom and Dad day after their wedding

Mom and Dad day after their wedding

Jessie was 21 and working as a secretary. Aaron was 25 and graduating dental school. According to Uncle Jay, (Jessie’s brother), she was dating a handsome medical student, Ben, from Texas and, while a doctor was a blessing, Ida feared her only daughter would move away. Aunt Rose, Dad’s sister, told me Mary wanted Aaron, the youngest of seven and the last one unmarried, to settle down. It was time for him to start his family with a sensible woman. Ida and Mary introduced Jessie and Aaron and found lots of reasons for them to be together. Neither Jessie nor Aaron were happy with their plans. Ida threw a party for Jessie and Aaron but was a bit miffed when Aaron brought another woman as his date and Jessie walked in on Ben’s arm.

Back in the City, Jessie and Aaron spent time together the rest of the summer. Aaron became part of Jessie’s group of friends. Jessie was a practical realistic woman and a bit of a quiet person especially compared to Aaron’s outgoing nature. He held whatever audience he had enthralled with his stories and jokes.

On September 25, Uncle Jay came home from classes at Fordham University and was told to get dressed in his best suit. Jessie was getting married in their Aunt’s apartment across the hall. He was excited. He liked Ben. He stopped short when he saw Jessie with Aaron.

Ben pleaded his case up to the end but Ida would not hear any of it. He graduated, returned to Texas and never married. Jessie and Aaron had a good life together. Mom never spoke of Ben, not even when my sister and I would pester. She would just smile and tell us she wouldn’t change anything for the world.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.