Check out the real Greek sea monsters in Doppelganger Dirge:
I did some research into the Yakuza for one of the books in the Godhunter Series. This is not by any means a complete research paper on the Yakuza, merely a glimpse into what I discovered and what inspired me to write about their Gods.
There are two main branches of the Yakuza:
The Tekiya: itinerant vendors and hawkers originally, like Japanese Gypsies. They do everything from fortune telling to committing crimes. No more than 20% actually engage in peddling anymore. In addition to Amaterasu and the Emperor, they worship the god, Shinnō.
The Bakuto: very simply, they’re gamblers. In addition to Amaterasu and the Emperor, they worship the god, Hachiman.
Both branches worship Amaterasu and the present Emperor of Japan. Honestly, I don’t know what the worship of a living man is all about, perhaps it’s more of a respectful thing than worship like that of a deity.
Classic Yakuza activities include pachinko (a game), prostitution, protection, extortion, illegal gambling, occasionally drugs, real estate, and construction.
Tattoos were once used to brand criminals, but they became the mark of laborers in Japan and then solely Yakuza. Members tattoo themselves to:
Show that they have passed an initiation.
Prove that they have endured pain.
Commit an irreversible act.
Bear a mark of their order with pride.
Yakuza men wear kimono only on special occasions. These days, they prefer flashy suits, bright ties, sunglasses, rings, and close-cropped hair.
Some Yakuza terms:
Kobun: Gang members
Katagi: Straight Society
Sokaiya: Protection racket: they harass stockholder meetings.
Mikajime: Protection fees
Gobu-gobu: Brother; a title given to a man of equal rank. The Yakuza uses familial ranks so the wife of a boss would be called an elder sister and a lower ranking man would be called a younger brother.
Dormanbai: “Muddy Pen” The process of selling bad products.
A Yakuza ritual~
Sakazuki: The Cup Exchange
Sakazuki is the most important Yakuza ritual. It’s conducted in a secret location and time that are only revealed at the last moment. At one end of the hall it’s held in there will be an altar, above which will hang three scrolls representing three gods: Amaterasu on the right, Shinnō in the middle, and the Emperor on the left.
The ritual is conducted to implore purification from the Gods then a visit is paid to a local hot spring, and, finally, a boisterous and licentious feast is held. It was during this ritual that the Yakuza was attacked by werewolves in the Godhunter Series.
Amaterasu is the Goddess of the Sun and is one of the few female sun goddesses there are. Her name means: Shining in Heaven. She is the ruler of the Sun and Heavens along with her brother, Tsukuyomi, the Moon God. She is also the ruler of Takama no Hara, the High Celestial Plain, the domain of Kami (spirits). Amaterasu is the daughter of Izanami and Izanagi, sister of Susanoo (the Storm God), and mother of Ama-no-Oshiho-mimi. She is associated with roosters, the Sun, and ravens (her messengers).
Shinnō was actually a Chinese god-emperor who was credited with discovering medicine. He’s a God of Agriculture, Music, Medicinal Herbs, and the Market. It’s not clear how the Japanese Tekiya Yakuza came to worship him but since they’re traveling merchants, they probably picked him up in China and brought him back to Japan like a divine memento.
Hachiman is the God of Archery and War and is the patron god of warriors. He was worshiped by the Samurai and is considered to be a protector of Japan. Obviously, the Yakuza craved such a strong god for their own, but I find it interesting that a crime syndicate has such an honorable god as their patron.
There you have it, the meager collection of information I have on the Yakuza. Don’t tell them I told you.
The book in which the Yakuza Gods first appear:
While researching my latest Godhunter book, I decided to delve into the world of the Jinn (Also spelled as Djinn or Jinni) Who hasn’t been fascinated with the idea that a ghostly being could pop out of a bottle and grant them wishes? I want one! Me, please! But the Jinn aren’t just stories to Muslims; they believe in them as firmly as devout Christians believe in Angels. In fact, they believe that the Jinn were created by God the day after he made the Angels. God formed the Jinn from a “mix of fire” or “smokeless fire.” In my books, I took a bit of artistic liberty and made that smokeless fire into dragon fire. But I digress. There has been all sorts of speculation on what a smokeless fire is—many think it’s actually a type of energy that gives the Jinn their long lifespans—but nothing more about it seems to be mentioned in the Qur’an. Oh, and yes, the Jinn are mentioned numerous times in that holy book. In fact, it’s written that Muhammad (the last prophet of Allah) was sent to the Jinn as well as the humans to preach to them about Allah. Islamic tradition also says that King Solomon, the same one of Bible fame, was given the ability to speak with animals and Jinn.
Okay, we’ve established that there is serious belief in these beings. I read that “One can’t be a Muslim without faith in the Jinn’s existence.” So, please, do not make light of them to any Muslim friends you may have. These are not blue spirits with mustaches and the voice of Robin Williams.
The Jinn are reputedly fearsome beings who were on Earth long before humans. Evidently, they pissed off Allah by growing arrogant and corrupt so he sent a bunch of angels down to teach them a lesson. Jinn-butts smacked and lessons learned, Allah felt satisfied that justice had been dealt but decided he could do better as far as races were concerned. Boom! Humans were made.
Allah liked his new creation and demanded that the Angels and Jinn all bow down to us little humans. Most did, except for this guy called Iblis (I’ve also seen him referred to as Shaytan… hmmm, what does that name remind you of?) who said “Hell no, I’m made of smokeless fire and these things are made of clay. Obviously, I’m superior” (not a direct quote). Allah told him “Hell, yes, and that just happens to be where you’re going, buddy” (again, not a direct quote) and sent Iblis to Hell. That’s right; he’s the Muslim Devil. There’s a bit of contention over whether Iblis was a jinn or an angel, but I agree with one writer who said that since Angels could not disobey Allah, it makes sense that the one who did disobey would have to be a jinn.
Back to who they are. The Jinn are believed to live on another plane of existence (that worked really well into my story as I already had the perfect plane of existence to put them in) but enjoy interacting with humans in our realm. They are neutral entities, just like humans, and are neither good nor bad but able to be either. There are stories of Jinn helping humans and being a muse to poets and then other tales of them being nasty buttheads.
Jinn are said to be spirits who can take the shape of animals or people, some are even said to be able to take any form. They like human crafts and several became masters in human arts, and they also have power over the elements. Before Islam was established, the Jinn were supposedly worshiped by humans because of all of their mystical powers. Jinn can also possess people. The Arabic word majnun, used as a word for insanity, actually means “to be possessed by a jinni.” Because of this possession possibility, the Arabs have numerous ways to protect themselves from Jinn. Also of note is that when in their physical forms, the Jinn can be hurt. That’s the only time they can be hurt, actually. Despite this, they often take physical shape. One reason is to have sex, which Jinn engage in not only with each other, but also with humans. And yes, there can be offspring from such pairings.
Now, here’s the part that really surprised me; there are subclasses of Jinn. Lots of them. I won’t go too crazy with the descriptions, but I do want to give you a brief overview of each type.
The Jinn Tribes
Ifrits are Jinn who can be found in ancient ruins. They are thought to be the protectors of the Pyramids of Egypt. They have societies like humans with social ranks within their tribes or clans. They have been known to marry humans and have children with them and have the power to grant wishes. Despite that, they’re also known to be mean motherpluckers and it’s probably best if you stay away from them.
The Marid are the most powerful Jinn and are the basis for modern genie stories. The word marid means “giants.” I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that. They can grant wishes but those wishes come at a high cost. Thy’re likely the origin of that whole “3 wishes” thing since they can also be forced to grant those wishes if you trap them with magic or perform a ritual in their honor.
This one lifted my brows. I had no idea that Ghouls were Jinn. These Ghouls are shapeshifters with a craving for human flesh. They feed on corpses usually but wouldn’t turn down a fresh meal. Their women are especially scary because they can appear normal and even beautiful. They’ll trick men into marrying them and then eat their husbands. That seems like a lot of effort just for dinner, but I’m sure they have their reasons.
These are Jinn who appear as dogs or other animals. They’re found mostly in Arabia, Persia, and India. Evidently there were soldiers who disappeared during World War II who were led off into the desert by dogs. Those dogs are thought to be Hinn.
These are shapeshifting Jinn who live in the desert. They’re more open-minded than other Jinn and are friendly toward humans. They like to appear as whirlwinds or white camels (interesting choices). They are particularly useful since they are the enemy of the Ghouls, but they are also mischievous so I wouldn’t count on their help even in the midst of a ghoul attack. They have been know to take sides in human wars and either help or hurt soldiers depending on their opinion of them.
The Sila are shapeshifters who like to meddle in the affairs of humans, usually in a helpful way. They’re rarely seen.
These Jinn are similar to vampires. They live in the desert and drink blood from humans via foot licking. That’s right; they lick people’s feet until they bleed then drink the blood. Evidently, this is done while the person sleeps and doesn’t wake them. (This must be why I can’t sleep with my feet exposed; I must have sensed that there were foot-licking monsters out there. I just thought they lived under my bed, not in the desert.) I also read that the Palis aren’t too bright, and I instantly thought to myself; well, that’s obvious. Anyone with intelligence would find a better way to drink blood. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a human foot?
Supposedly, we’re all born with one of these as a companion. They are the little devils on our shoulders telling us to do bad things. With a lot of work, you can train them. Muhammad trained his so that he was never tempted by evil again. Training your qareen has other benefits as well. You can learn anything about anyone since everyone has a qareen and they can talk to each other. You will know how to cure illness, be able to find lost things, and make others obey you—again through their qareen. Oh, and you’ll know before visitors arrive; that’s obviously the most awesome benefit. Maybe Muhammad wrote a book on how to train your jinn. That would be helpful and it would also be a great name for a movie.
Okay, these are basically Muslim Demons. They are the followers of Iblis and love to do naughty things to humans. They can make you sick, destroy your life, and even kill you. They, like other Jinn, can possess humans, but they’re always mean about it. They’re malevolent asshats.
This is another type of vampire jinn. The Vetala are said to be the original vampires and are highly intelligent, as opposed to the foot-lickers. They can possess corpses and keep them from rotting. What purpose could they possibly have for that? Well, they use these fresh corpses as suits that they possess to walk among humans undetected. They’re also psychics who read thoughts and can tell the future.
Phew. When I first started researching, I honestly didn’t think there would be this much information on Jinn but in addition to the above, I found numerous stories, some sweet and horrifying, about Jinn interacting with humans. I hope this has opened your eyes about these fascinating beings—who may or may not be myths—and maybe even entertained you a bit. Now, stop reading this and go rub a lamp.
Meet the Jinn in this book:
The book in which Dvarka comes to life:
The Old Norse religion is a fascinating one full of strong, beautiful, and mischievous gods who love to come down to Earth and hang with the humans. Most people associate Valhalla with the religion, but there are so many other interesting Norse myths about the afterlife, the Gods, and the end of the world. Today, I’d like to ponder the Norse version of the Apocalypse, although I’m not sure “Apocalypse” is the best comparison. Where the Apocalypse is God ending the world, Ragnarok is the end of everything, including the Gods. In fact, the Gods pretty much destroy each other and take us down with them. The word Ragnarok means “Fate of the Gods” but has also been referred to as the Twilight of the Gods; a term I prefer simply for its poetic flow.
The Viking myth about the end of the world has many steps, clues to let the Norse people know what was coming (not that they could do anything about it). I took some liberties with these steps in my Godhunter Series but this is the correct order of the events of Ragnarok; the complete destruction of the entire cosmos, including the Gods.
Fimbulvetr arrives; the great Winter that will last as long as three normal winters. Humans will become desperate to survive and basically turn into a bunch of savages who would slaughter each other over a stale saltine cracker.
The Roosters Crow: there are three roosters whose crowing foretells the coming of Ragnarok but none of them are on Earth. Evidently, the horrible winter is enough to warn humans and they don’t need to hear a stupid rooster crow to know the god crap has just hit the fan. The three Roosters are: Fjalar—who crows in Jotunheim (land of the Giants), Gullinkambi—who crows in Asgard (home of the Aesir Gods), and the third rooster doesn’t have a name, he’s only known as a soot-red rooster who crows in Hel (that’s one L, not two; a land for the dead that’s cold instead of hot). At the same time, Garmr, the Hound of Hel, howls and breaks free.
The wolves, named Skoll and Hati, who have hunted the Sun and the Moon across the sky since there was a Sun and a Moon, will finally catch them and eat ’em up. Much to the surprise of all of us who called them silly puppies for chasing things you obviously can’t catch. Will they, get the last laugh. Nom, nom, nom. They eat the stars too until there’s nothing left but black night.
The world tree, Yggdrasil, with all of the Nine Worlds held within it, will quake and every tree in every world will fall and the mountains will crumble to the ground. Basically, it’ll make a big mess that no one can clean up.
Fenrir, the Great Wolf, shall be set loose and run amok, amok, amok! He’s probably pissed off that he missed the chance to catch the Sun and Moon so he’s gotta find something else to eat.
Jormungand, the enormous world serpent, will rise from the depths, causing tidal waves as he slip-slides onto land.
The snake’s arrival will loose the ship Naglfar—that disgusting ship made of the fingernails and toe nails of dead people (not kidding)—from its moorings to sail over the flooded earth, manned by Giants (the Jotnar led by Sutr) and captained by Loki (who broke free of his own chains to be there). They are headed to a field called Vigridr to do battle. As a side note here; Snorri Sturluson, who wrote the prose Edda, mentions how fingernails and toenails were cut from the dead as part of funeral rites so they couldn’t be used in building the Naglfar. No nails, no ship.
Fenrir will run across the Earth, fire shooting from his eyes and nose, with his jaw open wide to devour everything in his path. Think of a demonic bulldozer the size of the Titanic.
Jormungand will spit venom all over the place like a drooling pit bull and poison the worlds; land, water, and sky. He’s a grumpy gus when he first wakes up and hasn’t had his coffee.
The sky splits apart and out of the crack comes a bunch of Fire-Giants from Muspelheim. Surt, their King who has a fiery sword, leads them. They march across the Bifrost bridge—the rainbow bridge you see in movies—to Asgard, home of the Gods, and as they march, the bridge breaks behind them. No more rainbow connection.
Heimdall blows his horn, Gjallarhorn, to announce the arrival of Ragnarok.
Odin consults the head of Mimir, because the dead, giant head is supposedly even smarter than the Allfather. Odin did give his eye to Mimir for wisdom so I suppose this makes sense.
The Gods convene and decide to go to battle, even though that’s dumb considering that they know what’s coming. I guess going to war is better than doing nothing, especially when you love fighting as much as they do. The Gods meet the Giants (all sorts of Jotun) on a battlefield called Vigrid—it creatively means “Plain where battle surges.”
Odin fights Fenrir with his Einherjar—his chosen human warriors who have been training at Valhalla for this precise battle. Despite their training, Fenrir gobbles them all up, just like the Wolf with Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma. Even Odin gets swallowed. So much for the smart head.
Odin’s son, Vidar, attacks Fenrir to avenge his father. He’s wearing a shoe crafted from the scraps of leather that all human shoemakers have ever discarded. So, basically, a really big shoe. The shoe was made specifically to battle Fenrir, and Vidar uses it to hold open Fenrir’s mouth so he can stab Fenrir through the throat and kill him.
Another big bad wolf named Garm—you may remember him from his howling in Hel—fights the god, Tyr, and they kill each other. So do Heimdall and Loki, Freyr and Surt, and Thor and Jormungand. The most epic of those single-combats with dual deaths is the one between Thor and Jormungand. Thor manages to hammer the big snake to death, but he’s covered in so much snake venom that he only makes it nine steps before he falls dead too.
The remnants of the world—whatever Fenrir didn’t gobble up—sinks into the sea and nothing is left but the void. Creation is undone; the end.
Yeah, rather depressing but that’s about par for the course with end of the world scenarios, and the Vikings had to have one badass enough to match their badassness.
Experience Ragnarok in:
In one of the books in my Twilight Court Series, there’s a scene in a fairy strip club in which a centaur is on stage stroking himself. One of my readers wrote to me to point out that this would be impossible. It got me thinking. My first thought was that this woman has never seen a horse’s erect penis. Well, that’s not something everyone has seen so that wouldn’t surprise me. I mean, unless you live on a farm or watch the Discovery Channel, when would you see an erect horse penis. My second thought was that I wanted to prove whether or not it could be done. Here are my findings:
First, let’s consider the average length of a man’s arms. Wait, no, let’s first consider that an average horse can be from 4.6-6 feet tall. Very well, let’s go with an even height ratio and assume that a 6 foot tall horse body would have the torso of a 6 foot tall man on it. That seems accurate to me. And yes, people, we are getting scientific with this possible centaur masturbation scenario. Next, we have to determine the arm length for a 6 foot tall man. That’s more difficult. It can vary so I went with the average sleeve length for a 6 foot man and that is 34-36 inches. That sounds a bit long to me, but we’ll go with it for a mythical creature.
All right, now let’s envision a centaur. His body would merge into the front of a horse’s body, with his waist ending into the horse chest. That rounded bit at the base of a horse’s neck is actually called his breast but that sounds very feminine to me so I went with the term “chest.” Okay, now for more horse measurements. The average horse is 62.5 inches long; that’s length from head to tail, not height. One fourth of this is the head which means that the average length of a horse head is 15.62 inches. That leaves us with roughly 46.9 inches for the rest of the body. Divide that into three and we get 15.62 inches. If you look at a picture of the anatomy of a horse, you’ll see that the penis base is just in front of the hind legs, which looks to be about a third of the body of the horse to me. Therefore, I divided the horse body into thirds. Phew. Okay, so now we’ve got penis placement (where it begins) at 15.62 inches. Add to that the average length of a horses penis which can be up to 18 inches (we’ll give our centaur the benefit of the doubt; he’s obviously virile if he’s a mythical creature, right?) and you have a total of 33.62 inches. That gives us the location of the tip of the penis. Subtract that from the body total of 46.9 inches and you’re left with a distance of 13.28 inches for the centaur to cover. But wait, that’s not taking into consideration the angle. The penis would be extending in a straight line while the man’s arms would have the advantage of pivoting back at his shoulder joint AND he’d also be able to bend his torso at his belly. So, what we really need to consider is the distance between his shoulder and the penis when he’s bent double.
Well, that’s daunting. Okay now we need the average length of a man’s torso. That would be 17-19 inches. He wouldn’t get that entire length added to his reach even if he bends completely so lets take that down to an even 10 inches. So, we’ve given our centaur a reach of 34 inches with his arm and then an additional 10 inches that he can extend via bending. To judge if this length of 44 inches would be long enough to reach his manhood—horsehood, whatever—I consulted images of a horse that was measured. From his withers (top of his back) to the ground he was 62 inches. From the ground to his belly, he was 33 inches. That leaves a belly of 29 inches to cross at an angle. I’d say 44 inches would do it, especially if you take into account the penis placement which gave our centaur a mere 13.28 distance to conquer. AND, we didn’t even consider any growth that an erection would give him. Whoa, I think I need to lie down.
In conclusion, it would take some maneuvering and possibly involve propping of his forelegs on a table (exactly how I had my centaur stripper positioned, I might add) but centaur masturbation is doable. How much of his penis he’d be able to stroke is debatable, but I simply don’t have the will to go through more math to give us an exact number. Math has never been my strong suit. You’ll just have to be satisfied with what I’ve given you. Who knows if the centaur will be.
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The Psychology and Physical Effects of Colors
When I researched my Spectra Series, I discovered all sorts of interesting tidbits about colors. First, lets get into what colors are. What we think of as colors are wavelengths of light that bounce off things. Colors are determined first by frequency and then how those frequencies combine inside the eye. So, spectral power distributions exist in the physical world, but color exists only in the mind of the beholder. Now, let’s dive into the visible spectrum: ROYGBIV, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. At either end of this is spectrum are infrared (invisible long wavelengths) and ultraviolet (invisible short wavelengths). There you go; the basics of colors.
Humans have cones inside their eyes which are used to perceive colors. 64% of those cones respond strongly to red, 34% to green, and 2% to blue. Some birds and fish have four types of cones, enabling them to see ultraviolet light, and some insects also see ultraviolet light, which helps them see the patterns in flowers. The perception of these wavelengths has an effect on us mentally and physically. It seems as if colors, something we just view, shouldn’t affect us in any way, but when you think about them as wavelengths of light and then consider all the ways light can affect us, it begins to make more sense.
I’ve condensed my research for you below. In my books, I assign specific results (stopping breath, putting people to sleep, etc.) to individual shades but that’s artistic license. Here, I’ll give you the psychology of colors and the ways or parts of the body they can affect.
Interestingly enough, only 2% of the cones in our eyes respond to the color blue. Despite that, it’s most people’s favorite color. Perhaps that’s because blue is the peace bringer, it lowers blood pressure, and treats migraines. It can affect the throat, ears, and mouth. It prompts our bodies to produce calming chemicals and it also focuses the mind. Weight lifters can lift more weight in a blue room.
Black is the color of authority, stability, power and strength. It’s associated with intelligence but it’s also a somber color, a color of grieving. Finally, it is associated with evil. All in all, a serious color.
When yellow is intense, it can cause tempers to flare and babies to cry. Conversely, when it’s soft, it causes the brain to release serotonin, making people happy. Depending on the shade, it can speed the metabolism, destroy depression, and treat difficult digestion. It can affect the stomach, liver, and intestines.
Orange is a color of creativity. It stimulates creative thought and helps people come up with new ideas. It’s also linked to breathing and, oddly enough, stimulates breast milk production.
Red boosts sexual desire; just seeing the color makes the heart beat faster. It also gives energy, combats muscle and joint stiffness, and can affect the kidneys, backbone, and sense of smell. It’s associated with attraction, energy, movement (red cars appear to go faster), and life.
Pink is another calming color but to the point of making people submissive. A lot of psych wards used to have pink walls for this very purpose. It’s associated with love and is thought of as a gentle color.
Green boosts the immune system. It’s the strength provider, empowering muscles, bones, and tissues. It also stimulates the creation of growth hormones. It’s associated with fertility, money, nature, generosity, good luck, and envy.
Purple is the color of royalty. It’s reduces emotional and mental stress and helps promote sleep. It can affect the nervous system and eyes. It decreases sexual desire and stimulates brain activity used in problem solving. Young girls are most likely to choose purple as their favorite color.
In India, brown is a color of mourning, but most associate it with reliability, stability, and determination.
White is not a lack of color but the compression of all colors. It’s associated with purity, safety, and neutrality.
I hope this has given you a little insight into the very real affect that colors have on our life and perhaps inspire you to use them more effectively. At the very least, it may help you pick your next wall paint.
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