Happy May! I’m celebrating the release of Through the Storm, the third novel in my ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series for Harlequin Heartwarming with 1) a GIVEAWAY and 2) by JUMPING HEADFIRST INTO A BOWL OF HENNA! You heard right. Henna.
|Photo by Aftat Courtesy of Morguefile.com|
Okay, I didn’t jump in…at least not exactly. I leave that kind of danger to the hero in my book, Serengeti bush pilot Mac Walker ;). But allow me to explain.
Why am I now a henna head?
As many of you know, my Harlequin Heartwarming ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series is set in East Africa…specifically Kenya and its majestic Serengeti. I spent much of my childhood living in North Africa and one thing the entire region (from Africa to India and many other countries/cultures) has in common is the use of Henna, a natural plant based dye. Henna is used as a hair dye, as well as for elaborate, ‘temporary’ (they eventually fade…eventually) tattoos. Culturally, henna tattoos are used in celebrations such as weddings. The designs are endless, detailed and quite beautiful. Although I don’t specifically mention henna in my Kenya series, it’s definitely used there and henna designs are a traditional part of wedding preparations there, including with the Masai…who do appear in my books!
You can check out these links for examples of intricate henna work:
National Geographic Swahili wedding henna (you can imagine this on some of the characters in my books)
Henna can also be used for any ‘tattoo’ design. I personally love what the pregnant women in these images did to celebrate the beauty of their growing bellies!
Pregnant belly henna designs (These are gorgeous! No chance of that happening now lol, but maybe I could henna tattoo an HW and a heart on my ankle for the RWA conference ;)! Hmmmm.
Henna is great for hair and can also be used as a routine hair dye…free of harsh chemicals. The catch is pure henna is red. What shade of red depends on what color your hair was to begin with. What I love about it is that, on brown hair, it shows up predominantly as highlights that glisten in the sun.
As a pre-teen/teen, I often had henna in my hair. My mom used it to keep my hair conditioned and healthy. Plus, where we lived in Africa, henna use was super common (still is). One fun tradition was that, whenever henna was being prepared for hair (think women’s henna party), the ladies would literally get ‘we kids’ out of their hair (pun intended) by placing a dab of henna in our palm and having us curl our hand into a fist. The idea was that the tattoo shape that our scrunched fist would form would be a surprise…and if it looked like a fish we’d have good luck (or money would come our way ;). We’d run off and play, all the while keeping that fist until our moms said we could wash our hands for the big reveal.
Back then, I almost always got a fish shape, so I thought I’d try it again. Last week, I bought some henna, mixed it up and slapped it on my hair (picture many towels, plastic wrap and gloves because this stuff is like thick mud). While it sat on my head, I put a dab in the palm of my hand. The result? You tell me. Alas, it’s definitely not a fish, though money luck would have been nice lol. I’m thinking some sort of bird. A rising phoenix?
|Rula's not-so-artistic henna hand|
Here are my before and after hair photos. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks! And, yes, those are little elephant earrings ;).
BEFORE: (I do have some natural red highlights but more subtle. Gray hair in my part...not so subtle lol)
AFTER: (Taken in different lighting because it was hard to get the red to show up on camera...plus, it shows how it changes with light.)
This gift pack (and, honestly, any Harlequin Heartwarming book) would make a great gift for moms, grandmothers, sisters or anyone who enjoys tender, heartfelt romance. It includes a ‘From Kenya, With Love’ set of three 15 x 15 ½ inch canvas tote bags, 3 bookmarks, a pen, Harlequin sticky note pad, a ‘Think Harlequin’ pin, a ‘sweet and heartwarming’ bracelet, a cute mama and baby elephant figurine set and signed copies of the first two books in the series, The Promise of Rain and After the Silence.
The giveaway is also posted on my blog…A Writer’s Rush…and linked to from my Facebook page. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this giveaway post or on the same post on the other two sites and let me know what you think about my henna head! Thumbs up or thumbs down? Or let me know if you've used henna before. The winner will be announced, along with a special behind-the-scenes post on Through the Storm, here on the Heartwarming Author blog Saturday, May 7th.
THROUGH THE STORM is NOW AVAILABLE in print online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Harlequin or in ebook format everywhere! It’s also available on Netgalley for reviewers. Many thanks in advance to everyone who takes the time to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads or other review site…the ultimate gift to an author!
Tessa Henning is no damsel. But she's definitely in distress. If her husband really is involved in the ivory trade, he'll come after her when he finds out what she's uncovered. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Mac Walker. Stubborn, fiercely independent, danger-loving bush pilot Mac Walker—with whom she shares custody of their orphaned nephew. Though Mac's no knight in shining armor, he can keep her and their nephew safe in the Serengeti while they wait out this storm. But he can't protect Tessa from the strange weather brewing inside her, stirring up feelings for Mac she wishes she could ignore.
Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Reading!
Don't forget to check back here on Saturday for the winner! I'll have contact instructions for getting the prize pack mailed :).