Who were the Twelve Olympians and what were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

I’m more than halfway through The Immortals, Book I of Jordanna Max Brodsky’s new fantasy series and I’m excited to read more about her strong heroine, Selene DiSilva, known more than 2,000 years ago as the Greek goddess Artemis.

The Immortals
Here’s the premise of Book I:  Imagine if the Twelve Olympians from ancient Greek mythology were living among us, using modern names and working at modern jobs.  They have observed the passage of time in a way mortal beings cannot comprehend.  But time has taken its toll on these deities and some of their powers are beginning to fade.

When a crime spree resembling the cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries takes over New York, Selene (Artemis) wonders if the crimes have anything to do with the original twelve.  As Selene and a Columbia University professor investigate the death of a female historian, they find themselves caught in a series of mysterious and dangerous situations.

Who were the Twelve Olympians?

Twelve Olympians wikipedia.org.png
Source: wikipedia.org

Right away, I needed to know all about the Twelve Olympians and how they fit into Greek Mythology.  These twelve became leaders of Mount Olympus when they defeated the Titans in a war of the gods.  While its members varied somewhat, the thirteen gods listed below are generally considered the main players and are the ones listed on Wikipedia.  I’ve included a brief description, but you can get the full story and see alternate lists by visiting the links at the bottom of this post.

Zeus:  King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus, brother and husband of Hera.  Zeus had many lovers.  Also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.

Hera:  Queen of the gods, wife of Zeus.  Often tried to get revenge on Zeus’ lovers and children.

Poseidon:  God of the seas, earthquakes and tidal waves.  Brother of Zeus and Hades.

Demeter:  Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons.

Athena:  Goddess of wisdom, reason, intelligent activity, literature, handicrafts and science, defense and strategic warfare.  Daughter of Zeus.  She came out of Zeus’ head fully grown in full battle armor.

Apollo:  God of light, prophecy, inspiration, poetry, music and arts, medicine and healing.  Son of Zeus and Leto.  Twin brother of Artemis.

Artemis:  Goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon, and all animals.  Daughter of Zeus and Leto.  Apollo’s twin.

Ares:  God of war, violence, and bloodshed.  Son of Zeus and Hera.  Hated by all the other gods except Aphrodite.

Aphrodite:  Goddess of love, beauty, and desire.  Daughter of Zeus and possibly the Oceanid Dione.

Hephaestus:  Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone.  Married to Aphrodite.

Hermes:  Messenger of the gods; god of commerce, thieves, eloquence and streets.  Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia.

Hestia:  Goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family.  She is sometimes replaced by Dionysus as one of the Twelve, and the story is that she gave her throne to him to keep peace.  She is oldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.

Dionysus: God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theater. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.

What were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

Source: esotericonline.net
Source: esotericonline.net

The Eleusinian Mysteries were secret religious initiations held yearly for the cult of Demeter and Persephone.  Persephone was Demeter’s daughter and was kidnapped by her uncle, Hades and forced to be his wife.  After the original kidnapping, Zeus ordered Persephone to spend part of the year in the underworld and part of it with her mother, Demeter and the four seasons resulted from this arrangement.  Those initiated into the cult believed they would be rewarded in the afterlife.

You don’t have to do any extra studying to enjoy The Immortals.  Brodsky does a great job explaining all the gods and their myths.  But I always like to know who’s who and what’s what, so a little extra research is making it fun for me!

I’ll be reading for the rest of the weekend.  Check back soon for my review of The Immortals.

You can find out more about the Greek gods and goddesses and the Eleusinian Mysteries by visiting the following links:

Wikipedia article on the Twelve Olympians
Wikipedia article on the Eleusinian Mysteries
Enclclopæadia Britannica
Info Please – Hades Takes a Wife

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Mythology Refresher – Artemis and The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Immortals
I’m busy reading The Immortals, Book 1 of an exciting new series by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  Brodsky’s star character is the Greek goddess Artemis, living in modern New York City.  These days she goes as Selene DiSilva and in her current life she spends her time avenging violence against women.

When Selene discovers a woman’s mutilated body on the rocks of the Hudson River, disturbing signs point to an ancient cult ritual.  As police detectives work to solve the murder, Selene starts her own investigation and calls upon her Greek counterparts for help.

I like this painting of Artemis, artist unknown. medeaslair.net
I like this painting of Artemis, artist unknown. medeaslair.net

It’s been a while since I studied Greek mythology, so I pulled out my copy of Mythology by Edith Hamilton.  Here’s what Hamilton says about Artemis:

She was “Apollo’s twin sister, daughter of Zeus and Leto.  She was one of the three maiden goddesses of Olympus.”

Artemis “was the Lady of Wild Things, Huntsman-in-chief to the gods, an odd office for a woman.  Like a good huntsman, she was careful to preserve the young; she was the ‘the protectress of dewy youth’ everywhere.”

Wikipedia describes Artemis as “the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.”

Wikipedia shares this Roman copy of a Greek sculpture by Leochares, on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Wikipedia shares this Roman copy of a Greek sculpture by Leochares, on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Brodsky has chosen a great symbol of female strength.  And it’s fun to imagine that the Greek gods and goddesses are living among us.  I’m about a hundred pages into The Immortals and I can tell you that Selene DiSilva is one tough lady.  I’ll be cheering for her as the story develops.

jordanna max brodsky
Jordanna Max Brodsky

Brodsky has been fascinated by mythology since she was a young girl, so it’s no surprise that the gods and goddesses play prominent roles in her series.  You can read all about Brodsky here.  And stay tuned for my review of Book 1!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Dorinda Balchin

Who's That Indie Author pic

Dorinda Balchin

Author name:  Dorinda Balchin

Genre:  Historical fiction

BooksHeronfield; The Guardians

     Heronfield     The Guardians

Bio:  I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child and spent all of my spare time in the local library. I also have a love of history so it seemed only natural that the two should come together and I would write historical fiction, particularly stories set during periods of war and conflict. I love the detailed research necessary to create books which have a real feel for the period, and my debut novel, Heronfield, was described as ‘an amazing read’ by the Historical Novel Society. I’m currently at the proofreading stage with my third novel (set during the English Civil War) and, whilst this is ongoing, I am working on a series of novels featuring a war correspondent.

My life has not always been about writing (although there has never been a time I wasn’t scribbling something down). After graduation I had a career teaching in England, followed by a ‘mid-life crisis’ which saw me moving to India with my husband to run a remote guesthouse. Now that we are back in the UK I spend most of my time looking after my grandson, and writing. Any spare time I get will be spent painting, fencing and riding.

Favorite thing about being a writer: One of my favourite things about being a writer is being able to create a fictional story within a real historical setting. I love the detailed research required, and then creating a whole set of characters to inhabit that timeline. The great thing about writing historical fiction is that my characters can look at a well-known event from a different perspective; no one knows how they will be affected by what is going on around them, which makes for great storytelling.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: I think the biggest challenge as an indie author is marketing. I know that there are many readers out there who would love my work but as an indie author it is much harder to reach them without the resources and contacts of a traditional publisher.

Favorite book: This is a difficult one! I have eclectic tastes and my favourite book can change over time depending on which genre I’m currently enjoying. I would say that, at the moment, one of my favourite books is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. But who knows what it will be next week, or next month!

Contact Information (blog, website, etc.):  Author website:  dorindabalchin.com; Twitter:  @DorindaBalchin; Email: dorinda@dorindabalchin.com

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Blog views and other obsessions – timing posts and social media pushes


As a book blogger I tend to get my posts out there whenever I can, regardless of the day of the week or hour on the clock.  But now that I’m working, I have to be more organized and that got me thinking about when the best times would be to blog and then push my posts through social media.

Although I blog about books because it’s lots of fun, I definitely want people to read and interact with what I have to say!  Comments are one of the best parts of blogging.  They are like getting gold stickers on a test paper.  I love receiving them and getting to know other bloggers.

Here are the results of my mini research project about the best days and times to do blog-related activities:

First, some general guidelines to increase your traffic:

  • Be consistent to develop an audience.
  • Get the most out of your tweets and other links.  Many people discover blog content through social media.  So the timing of your blog post isn’t quite as important as when you send out links to your posts.  Not surprisingly, many people who work surf through social media during lunch and on breaks, so schedule your tweets and other social media during those times.
  • Consider the “evergreen” concept – posting material that can be enjoyed year round.  These posts are not time sensitive or topical.  It’s like building an inventory.
  • Post as often as possible but always provide high quality content.  Resist the urge to post anything less than that.
  • Pay attention to your own stats – they will tell you specifics about when your posts are being read.

WordPress Insights can give you some of this information.  Here’s what it says about Book Club Mom’s best day and time:

BCM stats

Here are some of the best times and days to get out there on social media.  But remember, your blog might be dependent on specific factors.  Your audience might tune into you after work, for example, or on weekends.  (All times are Eastern Standard Time.)

FACEBOOK – People use Facebook at work, home, on mobile and desktop (no surprises there!), but specifically, these are the best times:

12-1 pm on Saturdays and Sundays
3-4 pm on Wednesdays
1-4 pm on Thursdays and Fridays

The worst times to post on Facebook are weekends before 8 am and after 8 pm.

TWITTER – used at work and home, usually during downtimes like commutes and breaks.

12-3 pm Monday – Friday
5-6 pm Wednesdays
Best day – Wednesday

LinkedIn – professionals use it during working hours.

Best times:

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays:
7:30-8:30 am
12 pm
5-6 pm

On Tuesdays:
10-11 am

The worst time to post on LinkedIn is between 10 pm and 6 am.

PINTEREST – mostly female users in the evenings

2-4 am and evening hours every day (yes, that’s 2-4 am!)
5 pm on Fridays
8-11 pm on Saturdays

INSTAGRAM – used on mobiles all the time, but the best times are:

Any time Mon-Thurs, except between 3-4 pm
Videos are best to post between 9 pm and 8 am

I’m not sure I can line everything up, but it is definitely interesting to think about.  There is a lot of great information about blogging and timing your social media.  Check out these interesting and helpful posts:

HubSpot.com “The Best Times to Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Media Sites”
Torquemag.io “Strategic blogging: the best time to publish and share content”
blogpress.com “Is There a Best Time or Day to Post My Blog?”

Do you have a blogging schedule?  Do you pay attention to the day and time?  How active are you on other social media sites and do you schedule your pushes?  I like to read blogs in the evening or while I eat breakfast.  I catch up on a lot of them on weekends.  How about you?

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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

reconstructing amelia
Reconstructing Amelia

Kimberly McCreight

3 book marks

“If you think you know what your teenagers are doing on social media, you’d better think again.”  That’s what Kate Baron might have said in the end, long after her daughter Amelia’s shocking death and the investigation that followed.  Kate’s discoveries of the cyber circles in which Amelia had become entangled reveal a world Kate could have never imagined, full of cliques, vicious gossip, exclusive clubs and secret initiations.

Reconstructing Amelia is Kimberly McCreight’s debut novel about the secret life of teenagers at Grace Hall, an elite private school in Brooklyn.  Her story begins on the day of Amelia’s death and continues through the months that follow while Kate tries to understand what happened to the girl she thought she knew.

Kate already knows that something is wrong when she’s called out of an important meeting at work to retrieve her daughter.  Amelia, a gifted high school student and talented athlete, has been suspended for cheating, effective immediately.  As she rushes to the school to pick up her daughter, Kate braces herself for a meeting with Amelia and the headmaster.  But there will be no meeting because Amelia, she is carefully told, has fallen off the roof of the building.

Amelia’s death is ruled an “impulsive suicide” and, just as Kate begins to face her new reality, she receives an anonymous text:  “Amelia didn’t jump.”

Kate knows in her heart these words are true and, with the help of a police detective, she immerses herself in her daughter’s secret internet life.  They pore over emails, Facebook posts, and text messages and try to piece together the events that led to Amelia’s death.  In addition, a snarky gossip blog and a pile of hate notes hint at bullying and secret clubs.  But who is responsible?

In some ways, Reconstructing Amelia is a coming-of age-story, for both mother and daughter.  In the weeks before her death, Amelia faces many decisions about friendship, love and fitting into a world she is just beginning to understand.  And in the months after her death, Kate must make peace with her own decisions and move forward.

McCreight builds a suspenseful story on an interesting premise and I enjoyed reading this fast-paced story because of its many twists and turns.  Readers may become frustrated, however, with partially-developed leads and an overabundance of questionable character motives that muddle up the storyline without purpose.  Equally frustrating are a good number of typos and grammar errors, taking away from the reading experience.

That said, I liked the book for its ideas and pace, making it a light, entertaining read.

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Choosing Yourself Over Perfection – Heart Beings article

Check out my latest article on heartbeings.com!


The Gifts of Imperfection

Choosing Yourself Over Perfection

Review of The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Are you a perfectionist? Or do you always feel like you’re not quite enough? Learn how to be accomplished without being overwhelmed.

I tried to be perfect that day. I had practiced the music routine for weeks. At age fourteen, I desperately wanted to be a twirler for my school. On tryout day, the music played and I marched and twirled to “Feeling Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel. I thought it was going pretty well and, at the start of the next move, I confidently grabbed the ball of the baton and prepared to throw it in the air. But at the moment I swung my arm, something went terribly wrong. The ball came off the end and, instead of going up, the baton went cartwheeling to the side, nearly taking out one of the judges. If the judges hadn’t been sure about me before this moment, seeing my baton hurtling toward them made their decision easy. So while many of my friends were selected for the twirling squad that day, I didn’t make the cut.

Although I was able to bounce back from the experience, not making the cut was the first time I was told I was not good enough to be a part of something I really wanted. Rejection is an unavoidable part of all our lives and can lead us to opportunities and careers that suit us better. But everyone processes it differently, and that’s the tricky part. Some people fuel comebacks with these feelings. They return stronger or they excel at something new. And hard work does pay off. Coaches successfully use this strategy to prod athletes into improving their game. Students study harder and get better grades. People work harder at their jobs, get promoted and recognized for their achievements. And while some are happy with the challenge, for others, this feeling of never being good enough, or worthy, becomes a debilitating trap. Always striving for perfection can permeate our thinking. It’s a mindset that can ruin relationships and prevent people from experiencing their imperfect, authentic, and happy selves. And in the end, no matter what successes we have achieved, it’s our happiness and our relationships that are most important.

Brené Brown has a solution. Brown has spent years researching and studying the damaging effects of what she calls “shame storms” and has written a guidebook to help people avoid the pitfalls of trying to be perfect. As a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Brown writes and speaks regularly about her findings. In The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, and in her very popular TED Talks on The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame, she shares her personal struggle for perfection in a warm and engaging style. She encourages readers and listeners to take an honest look at their own lives and examine how they can change their way of thinking to become successfully happy people.

Brown offers ten guideposts to what she terms “Wholehearted Living,” a lifetime practice of cultivating the positive things in life and letting go of the negative ones. She suggests the only way to true happiness is to get away from the feeling we have to “hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.” Instead of worrying about being perfect, about what people think, and insisting on certainty, Brown suggests alternate strategies such as cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, and gratitude. Practicing these strategies is the key to feeling worthy.

Brown’s message is both powerful and freeing. It’s not about becoming a slacker. It’s about embracing who you are. She writes, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

I moved on from the twirling debacle years ago, but now I’ve found Brown’s book at just the right time. As I am learning to juggle a new job with my responsibilities at home, as a mother and director of all household activities, I will need to remember that perfect is not always necessary. My family will still love me if our dinners aren’t as exciting or if my kids are down to their last clean pair of socks. I accept Brown’s “invitation to join a Wholehearted revolution;” in a culture that places such value on achievement, this one is a win-win!

Heart-Beings_free-to-be-meIf you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!

You may enjoy my other articles on Heart Beings:

“The Epic Minivan”
“Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness”
“Doing It Right the First Time”
“A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline”“Is That Mood of Yours Contagious?”

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Who’s That Indie Author? Thomas Whaley

Who's That Indie Author pic

Thomas Whaley

Author name:  Thomas Whaley

Genre:  Literary Fiction

BookLeaving Montana

Leaving Montana

Bio: Thomas Whaley was born in 1972 and has lived on Long Island his entire life. He is an elementary school teacher and has always enjoyed writing as a pastime. Thomas currently lives in Shoreham, New York with his husband Carl, their two sons Andrew and Luke, and loyal dog Jake.

LEAVING MONTANA is Thomas Whaley’s first novel and also the WINNER of the 2015 ERIC HOFFER Small Press Award, the 2015 INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD for Best New Literary Fiction, the 2015 INDEPENDENT AUTHOR NETWORK AWARD for Outstanding First Novel and THIRD PLACE in the 2015 IAN Book of the Year Award! Thomas recently won the 2014 NYS 2nd Grade Teacher of the Year Award and was featured on NPR’s 50 Great Teachers on All Things Considered!

Favorite thing about being a writer: I really enjoy meeting new people!  Since Leaving Montana’s debut in July of 2014, I had the pleasure of communicating with so many readers and meeting amazing people at book events and book clubs.  Now that Leaving Montana has been rereleased, I am getting to experience this all over again.  There’s nothing more exciting than having someone you never met before tell you that they appreciate your work and can’t wait for more.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Marketing is one of the biggest challenges for an indie author – especially if writing is not your full-time job.  I am also an elementary school teacher and father of two active eight-year-old boys.  Getting Leaving Montana noticed can be difficult.  Although book events make it easier, they are temporary.  It takes time to gain a following, especially if Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook reading clubs/groups and blogs are one of your main avenues of marketing.  You really have to schedule the time to get the word out!

Favorite book: My favorite book is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It is one of those books that you keep close by and reference when certain life experiences challenge your happy place.  I have referred it to so many people over the years and it has helped so many stay focused on being the best they can be.

Contact Information: You can find Tom at his website, thomaswhaley.com, on his Goodreads Author Page  and on Twitter @AuthorTomWhaley.

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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