Beat the pandemic holiday doldrums

Celebrate Krampusnacht this year with a good book and rousing conversation.

Author Gwen Alyce Clayton invites you to her virtual party this Saturday to launch her latest book—the supernatural thriller Zinfandel’s Grimoire. The event will take place Dec. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. EST via Facebook Live. Joining her will be six friends who will discuss themes and tropes found in the book. Check out the lineup:

7 to 7:30 p.m. Introduction
Author Gwen Alyce Clayton kicks off the party with a welcome message and reading of the Krampus chapter from her latest book, Zinfandel’s Grimoire, which was just released Nov. 5. Krampus is a figure of Austrian and German folklore, known as the Christmas demon or Christmas devil, who rides the night skies on December 5th every year, punishing naughty boys and girls. In Clayton’s book, though, Krampus is a little … different.

Sharon A. Kuhn enjoys a hot cup of tea while talking about her new book, “Empathy: A Guide to Maximizing Human Potential.” Photo by Gwen Clayton.

7:30 to 7:45 p.m. Emotional Intelligence
Sharon Kuhn, founder of the Center for Empathy and author of Empathy: A Guide to Maximizing Human Potential
By day, Sharon A. Kuhn is an emotional intelligence consultant, leadership coach, neuroleadership advisor, and Forbes Coaches Council member. She is the author of the Unique EQ Program—a brain based emotional intelligence model. But on the night of Dec. 5, she’ll be joining the Krampusnacht party for a light-hearted, fun discussion about how the main character, Zinfandel, uses empathy to befriend the besmirched goat-man.

Guitar Angel David Goeglein strums a tune at Sassafras Hollow inside Lindenwood Nature Preserve. Photo by Gwen Clayton.

7:45 to 8 p.m. Music and the Muse
David Goeglein, a.k.a. Guitar Angel
Music is very important to the people of Rivervine, and they incorporate it into their everyday lives as well as their magical rituals. Goeglein will talk about how music inspires and motivates us and why it’s important to hone our creative chops. A guitarist and bass player for more than 20 years, Goeglein has performed live with several local rock bands and worked as a solo performer, composer, guitar tech, and instructor. His playing has a tasteful edge and versatile imagination that he puts to work as a studio musician and composer of custom music scoring.

Kaimelar Alan Lute of Maumee River Leather Goods displays the leather journals during a craft fair earlier this year. Photo by Gwen Clayton.

8 to 8:15 p.m. The Making of a Good Grimoire
Maumee River Leather Goods
A grimoire is a type of diary, usually filled with secrets and hidden knowledge. Maumee River Leather Goods makes beautiful leather-bound journals, decorated with ornate carvings and intricate craftsmanship. They are adventure-ready, made using materials and techniques designed to hold up to heavy use and the wear and tear of travel.

Stephanie Henry cares for her many plants on the porch of her Fort Wayne home. Photo by Gwen Clayton.

8:15 to 8:30 p.m. Real Issues in Ag Today
Stephanie Henry, Agvocate and founder of Pocket Potager
The central theme of the Rivervine Trilogy is that Fermata Cellars is a haunted winery sitting on 83 acres of prime farmland. When a corrupt city councilman decides he wants to condemn the property and sell it for a cheap price to one of his cronies, the ghost (Zinfandel) fights to keep her land. Stephany Henry’s business, Pocket Potager, is a consulting and strategic advisory firm that provides technical assistance, education, and outreach to new and transitioning farmers as well as other members of food system infrastructure. She will talk about real issues facing the agricultural industry today and what we can do to help.

ADF Archdruid relaxes after a ritual. Photo contributed.

8:30 to 8:45 p.m. Druidry and Ogham
Jon Drum, archdruid for Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)
The Comatis are a group of mystics living in the Old Town district of Rivervine. The magical system Clayton writes about is a fictional one she invented, but it is based heavily on ADF Druidry. Their divination system is the ogham, a script from ancient Ireland with each character representing a native tree. Clayton has transliterated the ogham alphabet to correspond to native trees of the Sierra Foothills of northern California, which is the setting for the fictional city of Rivervine. Drum is the archdruid for ADF and teaches ogham studies online. For Krampusnacht, Drum will tell us all a little about what Druidry is and how the ogham is used.

Stephanie Connolly Reisner is an author, publisher, and practitioner of the esoteric arts. Photo contributed.

8:45 to 9 p.m. Tarot and Esoterica
Stephanie Connolly Reisner, author and tarot reader
All of the chapter titles in Zinfandel’s Grimoire are named after cards in the tarot. Stephanie Reisner writes extensively about magick, witchcraft, and demonology as S. Connolly, and writes supernatural, paranormal, and fantastic fiction under three additional pen names. She began her journey into the supernatural at age 12 while trying to understand many of her own childhood supernatural experiences. She has been reading tarot since she was 16 years old, and now reads for others professionally. During Krampusnacht, Reisner will offer the audience a peek inside the world of tarot—its history, uses, and precautions.

This event is intended to be a light-hearted, fun evening to chase away the pandemic doldrums. If audiences find any enlightenment, so much the better. Please be advised this is for mature audiences. Zinfandel’s Grimoire contains adult themes and deals with esoteric topics. Reader discretion is advised.

Author Gwen Clayton stands in the barrel room of Country Heritage Winery in LaOtto, Indiana. Photography by Kristine Logan.

About the Author: Gwen Alyce Clayton is an independent author, copy writer and journalist whose work has been published in local newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. Her mission is to write quality fiction novels and modern folklore that inspire readers to think critically while enjoying the wonder of things not yet known. Originally from Sparks, Nevada, her father was from Mishawaka, Indiana so she claims to be half Hoosier. As an adult, she spent twelve years in the Sierra Foothills wine region of California before moving to Golden, Colorado, and then Fort Wayne, Indiana where she currently lives with her husband, Eddie. The couple enjoy roaming enchanted woodlands in search of adventure. She holds a bachelor of science degree in public administration from Regis University.

About the Rivervine Trilogy: The Comatis are a small group of mystics living close to the land and running their mom-and-pop businesses in the city of Rivervine, a small, rural community in the Sierra Foothills of northern California. Combined, the Comatis own 93 acres, with the anchor being the winery, Fermata Cellars, with 83 acres. Rumors about the land being haunted have plagued the area since the Gold Rush, but they’ve never been a problem until the property became the latest battleground in a 6,000-year-old war.

About Zinfandel’s Grimoire (Book 2 JUST RELEASED!): Xin Vondella, known to the townsfolk as Zinfandel, has been the spectral sentry of the city of Rivervine for over a hundred and fifty years. She has vowed to protect and defend her land against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Her modern-day allies are the Comatis—a group of mystics who live a simple, earth-based lifestyle that has been threatened by real-estate developers for ages. But now they face an enemy who has other plans for the property—and we’re not talking about a strip mall or housing subdivision. This is a spiritual battle that will be fought in both the physical and occult realms, stirring up 6,000-year-old demons, with fronts in both California and the Middle East. The entire Comati culture faces erasure. But if Zinfandel can put into writing all of the history, philosophy and mystic lessons, the legacy just might continue. Where and when it will continue, though, is still unknown.

About Fermata Cellars (Book 1, released September 2016): Manuel Chavez grew up in the vineyards as the son of a migrant farmworker. All his life, the good Catholic boy heard rumors of Fermata Cellars being haunted, but he never believed them until he accepted a job as the winery’s marketing director. When a corrupt city councilman tries to snake the land away from his Pagan employers, he has to confront his fear of the supernatural to determine whether or not the nuisance should be abated.

Clayton would greatly appreciate readers leaving reviews after finishing any of her works. Also, be sure to follow the author on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you would like to support her craft, you can subscribe to her Patreon account.

Also, please always download ebooks from their original sources. Ebook piracy is becoming a huge problem, robbing authors of royalties due to them for the work they created. For most self-published authors, their profit margins are slim enough as it is. To learn more, click HERE.

Virtual Krampusnacht and Book Launch will take place on the Gwen Alyce Clayton author page via Facebook Live THIS SATURDAY, December 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. EST (that’s 4 to 6 p.m. California and Nevada time/6 to 8 p.m. Colorado time).

Published by Gwen Clayton

Gwen Clayton is a freelance writer living in Ashland, Kentucky. She is the former editor of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, and has written for numerous other publications since 1986. Her first book, the paranormal thriller "Fermata Cellars," was published in 2016, and her Bible-inspired short story, "Purr: A story of love, lions and a Hebrew named Daniel," was released in 2019. She recently finished writing, "Zinfandel’s Grimoire," which is the sequel to 'Fermata;' that book is in the editing and design phase of publication. Her current works in progress include the third book in the Rivervine Trilogy, tentatively titled, "Comatis Unveiled," and the nonfiction, "Dragon's Poker Table: A rocker chick's breast cancer journey." Her books are independently published under the imprint, Rivervine LLC. In addition to writing books, Clayton contracts as a copywriter for local, small businesses.

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