Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Category: Fandom

Sweep in Peace is coming

“Clean Sweep” is a book by Ilona Andrews I discovered years after the Kate Daniels-series. It got lost in the murky depths of my Kindle. When I finally did read the book in the Innkeeper series–a free series that had been published in installments on Andrews’ innkeeper website— I fell in love. The wait for book 2 felt very long.

Today I came across a 2nd cover on Ilona Andrews’ official website with the tantalizing button “coming soon”. Yay. :-)

“Sweep in Peace” was available for free on their website (now I could only find 2 chapters), and is now being prepped for the ebook edition.

Screenshot 2015-08-23 14.21.17

If you enjoy Urban Fantasy with verbal sass and quirky magic, the Innkeeper Series is for you.

Love the cover art, too.

Fantasy Warrior Workout for beginners

He pulled me close, against his hard chest. His heart was still beating rapidly from racing after my attacker, thumping just under my cheek.

“I won’t ever let him get close to you again.” His voice was rough, a stark contrast to how gently his hands teased the hair from my face. “Shhhh, don’t cry. It’s over. He can’t hurt you anymore.” His claymore fell to the stone floors of the hall with a clatter and he picked me up in his arms.

Mhmmm, yes? :-)

Just playing around a little to get you in the mood for a good warrior workout. ;-) I don’t mean a Spartan Warrior workout or WOD. I mean the feeling we get when training with a workout that our beloved Highland hunks, elf warriors, Shadowhunters and Dark-Hunters wouldn’t sneeze at.

Admit it, you’re discreetly drooling inside when reading how Jace trains in the large hall at the New York institute.
Or Adrian Paul, from Highlander?

 

So, training for girls who read … ;-)

kettlebells fantasy warrior workout brida anderson

I’ve been practising yoga for years (when I practise, cough) and some other sports on and off. With two kids, there hardly seemed to be any time. Enter my new love: kettlebells. You can do a taxing workout in as short as 20 minutes (at least when you start out) — ideal with kids. Unlike barbells, you move the kettlebells with your whole body, especially your core, and in movements that are similar to real-life movements. That’s why it’s so effective at building up strength, and that’s why a kettlebell training can stand in for double duty as strength and cardio training.

Bonus: you feel as if you dropped in one of your favorite books or tv series when you skillfully manouver that metal ball around. Especially if you combine it with certain yoga moves.

So, use that skilled imagination of yours that you primed by reading all these lovely books!

I’ll assume in the following that you know a little yoga and have tried out kettlebells before and know the correct form for the exercises that you pick. Poor form in kettlebell exercises can lead to injuries, so be careful. For the first attempts with KB it’s best to have a trainer or someone who knows KB well to spot you and correct you. And to use a lighter weight so you can concentrate on what you do with that heavy ball instead of being blown away with happiness that you can move that thing AT ALL. ;-)

Put on some sexy music. If you’re just starting out with kettlebells, pick music that’s not too fast or it will make you compromise on form.

Shove your mat or carpet against a blank wall and face it. Concentrate hard on wishing yourself into a dojo of your choice, where you are training either alongside or to surprise your favorite book-boyfriend.

Lead your body through several repetitions of the Sun Salutation from yoga. In their place, you can alternate stretching as high as you can and doing push-ups. Glide over into some Warrior stances from Yoga for good measure. Hold each stance for five long slow breaths. Really feel the power moving through you, your strength awakening. The Warrior-asanas have the nice side-effect of making building up confidence. Plus they always make me feel like an amazon, so there’s that. :-)

Next pick a kettlebell with a weight that you can safely handle in about 30 controlled swings (both hands, both legs, power comes from the butt). Done those? Sweating already? Good. :-)

Then attack the kettlebells with a circuit round of exercises. Pick 3 to 4  different kettlebell exercises (there are a ton of videos on YouTube and Pinterest posters with good KB exercises) that you repeat each for 12 to 15 times, depending on how fit you are. Use the same weight you used for the swing if the exercise uses both hands and is NOT overhead. Pick a lower weight if the exercise uses only one hand or is overhead.

I try to alternate between ones where most of the strength comes from the legs (like the squat) with ones where my arms have to do more work (like the tricepts-exercises and the abs).

My circuit is usually:

  • Around the World and Figure Eight’s for the fun of it
  • deep goblet squats
  • one of the many snatch and lift-variations or dead lifts
  • something for the triceps
  • plank rows / renegade rows (plank position with kettlebell)
  • sideways plank rows and/or oblique twists
  • waist swings

But do what rocks your boat! Be playful. There are so many different possibilities with kettlebells. Just try to do them in perfect form and slowly at first (with not a lot of weight) so you don’t hurt yourself. Then have fun! :-)

After 12 to 15 reps of your chosen exercises, do one more Sun Salutation, then the next round of your kettlebell exercises.

One more Sun Salutation, the third and last round of these exercises.

Don’t be afraid of the repetition. You’ll be surprised to see that you can do a lot more if you alternate exercises as if you trained just one round with “as many repetitions as I can manage”. I can do one set of swings with 32 repetitions. On a good day. But if I repeat the swing again in the middle of the circuit, I can do *another* 20 repetitions.

For cool down and stretching, I use different yoga asanas that are good for stretching my sore spots. Yours might be different, so pick accordingly. Something to stretch the back of the legs, the shoulders and the butt should be included.

If you like, throw in a little Zumba-like dance now. Put on quick sexy music. Just shake everything loose, celebrate that you just kicked butt!

Here’s a little bonus to get you motivated:

Doing this training twice a week is enough. And you’ll be done with it in about 30 minutes, plus the warm-up and cool-down time. If time is a problem, you can always do fewer exercises. Include the kettlebell swing in any case, that’s the foundation and works your whole core. The rest is just icing on the cake.

Marvel at the new body and fresh strength that emerges after a few weeks of this training. Now come to a LARP con with me and raise your sword in the air – you’re ready for battle. :-)

Sam Heughan – have you seen this Highlander?

Alright, let’s put it on the table up front: I haven’t read Outlander. I tried twice since it first came out, and I couldn’t get over the first part. It reminded me of my aborted attempt to study History at university. I had loved history classes at school. At uni, not so much. The first few weeks of any class were great. But when I was ready to move on to the next bit, they stayed on the same narrow topic for MONTHS. Yawn. (That was years before I learned I was a Scanner, btw. More on that some other time. Rest assured: It’s not an alien life form. I think. ;-)

So, anyway. That was my impression reading “Outlander” when what I was used to was Highlander-romance, sometimes paranormal Highlander romance. While in the romances, I sometimes cringed when things were too modern or badly researched, here there was history.  That was fine. But there was so much of it! And so much backstory. And so much stuff about the modern guy who I didn’t care for at all. I just wanted him out of the picture so the highlander could ride in, like: finally.

So when Outlander (gah: first I wrote Highlander … ;-) now came out on iTunes, I hesitated. I watched the trailers – and I loved what I saw. Still on the fence, I decided to skip the first episodes and to start with episode 7, The Wedding. For … cough … various reasons. ;-)

alright, not in the highlands. Photo taken in Sweden, castle by the sea (photo: Brida Anderson)

alright, not in the highlands. Photo taken in Sweden, castle by the sea (photo: Brida Anderson)

 

I was totally hooked by that episode. The writing, the story, the dialogue, the grittiness of it all. Like Game of Thrones without chewing my nails to the quick. I watched the eighth episode and am now severely tempted to start over at the beginning, with Sassenach.

I’m still torn on whether I like the heroine. I love the nuanced way she’s played and love the actress, but the heroine herself. Hm, we’ll have to see. But the Highlander, Jamie, comes alive so much and in so many small details, he feels real.

No wonder Sam Heughan, the actor who plays Jamie in Outlander, picks up Twitter followers by the bucketful. If you also love Jamie, here’s something for you: The page collated Sam Heughan’s rare Question & Answer session that he held for reaching 100K twitter followers. (That was two months ago, he’s at 114.000 now.) Now some of it reads just plain boring taken out of the context of Twitter. But if you’re on Twitter, you can imagine the heart palpitations some of these answers must have given, when he used their Twitter handle to, personally, send them a hug or a greeting. :-D

Outlander Twitter accounts to watch: Sam Heughan. Caitriona Balfe, the actress playing Claire . The writers’ of the show are at @OutlanderWriter.

Something else that I love about Outlander beside Jamie and the show’s look is the song that haunts the opening sequence, The Skye Boat Song (Skye Boat Song on Amazon.com). It’s based on an old song and poem and has such a nice Celtic, past-times touch combined with drive and determination. Reminded me of Loreena McKennit and Enya, in a good way.

The feyish quality of it is especially lovely when coupled with snippets of the series filmed in modern times. It went straight onto my playlist for writing. Can’t decide which version to show you here. One where you see the opening sequence? Maybe rather one where you can sing along:


 

Last but not least for you Outlander-addicts, here’s a sneak peek at the next season:

What do you think?

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