Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween, Festival of Samhain, and ancestors

As I research my family lineage, for no other purpose than for my own knowledge, I decided that it would be interesting to research the origin of Halloween.

Where did it come from? How did it get its name? Why do we celebrate it?

In the way things do, I learned that Halloween or what was originally known as Festival of Samhain comes from Ireland, much like part of my family history. Festival of Samhain, pronounced "sow-an", meaning "summer's end".

The Celtic Festival of Samhain was a celebration of the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker half. [Ooo! I get chills just thinking about the "darker half".]

The ancient Celtics believed that the veil between this world and the "otherworld" became thin on this night of the Celtic New Year, and thus perfect for allowing the spirits to pass through. The question is: Were they good spirits or bad?

Answer: BOTH

Yes, it was and perhaps still is believed that both the harmless and harmful spirits could pass through on this night. This idea is where the inspiration of wearing costumes originated.

On this evening family's honored their dead and invited them home, while warding off harmful spirits. Ancestors wore costumes to aid in the warding off of those bad, unwanted ghosts. The idea was that if they dressed as an evil spirit they would avoid harm.

In the traditional Celtic festival, hollowed out turnips were carved with faces and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits. Today we carve pumpkins.

Traditional costumes consisted of ghosts, skeletons, witches, devils, pretty much anything that was a monster. Remember, the idea was to play evid to ward off evil. Today, the costumes are pretty much anything, from a cartoon character, to a popular rock start, to the soft and squishy stuffed animal that you curl up with in bed at night.

Trick-or-treating, where did that come from? Actually, it came from those same Irish and British ancestors back in the middle ages. Trick-or-treating was originally known as "souling". Souling is where a poor person of the time would go begging from door-to-door on Hallowmas (November 1st), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2nd).

Hope you enjoyed this brief history of an Irish tradition and one of my favorite holidays.

Happy Halloween! Now go out and have fun celebrating the dead and undead!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing Prompt Wednesday

Hmm...seems too long since we had a writing prompt. I don't know about you all but I sure could use a little creativity boost.

Let's see what you create with this writing prompt: "Is everything -"

That little dash means the speaker was cut off or perhaps he/she trailed off, whichever you prefer. Have fun and think of the possibilities!

Let it flow and the words will come.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ladies' Night out at Good Feet in Bedford, NH

Good Feet in Bedford, NH is hosting a Ladies' Night Out!

The store has special happenings this evening from 5 to 9 PM.

There will be various vendors for you to check out and some goodies to munch. So if you are looking for something to do this evening, stop on by Good Feet at 7 Colby Court and see what is what and who is who.

If you go, stop by to see me, yes me, I'll be there with my latest novel, NEVER TEMPT DANGER and chocolate chip cookies.

I'll sign the book, you eat the cookies!

Monday, October 25, 2010

To my friend Lisa Olech

I'm a believer in if you say it, it will happen. Sheesh! For me that happens all the time. Like never tell someone who is going to go home and paint to not fall off a ladder. Sure enough it will happen...and in my case last winter I did. But it doesn't have to be all bad.

I want to tell you a little story. HA! That's a funny line coming from a writer.

I want to tell you the story of how I came to buy my house and about the glass art that came to hang in my window. A few years ago I had sold the house I owned and had thirty days to get another place. Thirty days seemed like a long time, so cool, no problem.

That was sooo NOT the case.

Who would have guessed it would be so difficult to find something that I liked and suited me. What exactly was I looking for? I wanted a house that was new or newer, had an open floor plan, wood floors, and a kitchen with granite countertops. No big deal, right?

So I visited about a eight homes, including ones that were older houses and had a lot of charm. Charm from a distance that is.

Anyway, I was almost at the end of my ropes when I had to go on a business trip. While I was in Kentucky, my real estate agent visited a few places that I had asked to look at and she would let me know if they were worth me seeing them. By this time she had gotten a feel for my taste and that worked for me. Well, she did not see a dang thing worth my time.

At the end of my week in Kentucky, my team is all packed up and at the airport and we are chatting away about plans for the weekend. Someone asks, "What are you doing this weekend, Denise?"

"I'm going to buy a house."

A couple of chuckles, a scoff or two, and someone says, "Yeah right. Just like that." He snaps his fingers. "Your going to buy a house."

I responded, "Yes, just like that, I will buy a house this weekend."

I arrive home Friday evening, get onto my computer and start looking at some listings that my real estate agent sent me. I picked out three and sent them to her. She replied back and asked, "If you could have everything in a house you wanted, what would it be?"

That was easy. "New, open floor plan, wood floors, granite countertops in the kitchen." Then out of the blue I added, "A rock wall and an apple tree."

Yeah, okay, funny, ha ha. Real estate agent thinks I am a hoot and we make plans for visiting three homes Saturday morning.

Here is where I tell you, "If you don't ask for it you won't get it."

The first house we saw was a new house in an older development. As we walk up to the front stairs I am immediately impressed by the nickel-finished oustide lamps and how they match the finish on the door know. Hey! It's the little things that make us happy. We walk in and holy cow we are greeted by wood floors and an open floor plan. And unbelievably, every fixture in the house is actually nickel-finished. What can I say these are the details that make a good builder.

Anyway, the wood floors go everywhere including the stairs except the bedrooms. In my mind I am high-fiving my real estate agent. We get to the kitchen and see granite counters. Oh my goodness I have died and gone to heaven. Yeah, no.

I check out the library. HA! Yes, my house has a small library, which I love. What writer wouldn't like that?

Next we travel outside to see the deck and the back yard. We're standing there and I hear this clanking noise followed by screams. "What is that, I ask the builder?"

"That's the old roller coaster at the amusement park."

Wicked cool! Then I glance down and see a rock wall that runs along the side of the property. Heart does a quick jump in chest. I love rock walls and am completely enthralled by them and how they came to be and who built it for what reason.

When I turn around to look at the grounds I see a bunch of Forsythias and this big tree. I pointed at it and asked, "What kind of tree is that?"

"Oh, that's an old apple tree. The whole place used to be an apple orchard."

Tell me you would not be having a heart attack, hyperventilating, and doing the happy dance all at once. Because remember, I just got what I asked for.

And yes, I bought my house that day! As I said I would. To top it off, my oldest friend had just returned from overseas some place and he called. I told him I just bought a house and he had to fly up to see it. Duh! Of course, he did. To me that was a sign.

Now, how does any of thise relate to the image of the glass art at the beginning of the story?

I have this wonderful friend and fellow writer slash glass artist named Lisa Olech. I asked her one day if she would make me a piece of art. She said yes.

As Lisa called me on the phone to dicuss what I wanted, which, I had no clue at the time, I relayed this story to her. I told her how my apple tree and rock wall became my symbols for my future. They became my symbols for throwing it out there and getting what I wanted.

One of those things was a yard/garden that I had always wanted, the house that I had dreamed of, and lastly, but maybe more importantly to me, is I got my first book published. That apple tree became my symbol of me and my dreams.

This blog post is dedicated to Lisa Olech, a friend, artist, and writer. Thank you for capturing my dreams and symbols and allowing me to see their beauty every day. You are a talented lady and I am happy that you are in my world of friends.

Hugs and kisses! And I'm ready for a new piece of art.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Intense Whisper hosts Never Tempt Danger character interview

On Friday, October 22nd, stop by Robin's blog at Intense Whisper and checkout an interview between two of my characters.

Charley, a human intelligence specialist from CONNECT THE DOTS puts Gilly, a robotics genius with a special gift from NEVER TEMPT DANGER on the hot seat.

Stop by, leave a comment, and get a chance to win a copy of NEVER TEMPT DANGER.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Summertime Wrap Up

Remember when you were younger and on the first day of school each fall some teacher would ask you to share what you did over the summer?

I thought it would be interesting to do something similar but share something new that you did or experienced for the first time. Kinda like a first kiss, but not. HA!

Since it's my blog I guess I will start. "Hm..." she says with her finger pressed to her chin.

I stained my new deck and porch. Nope, never done that before and not exactly sure I would do it again, but hey! I can say, "I did that."

I was introduced to some new music groups. "Okay, new music groups for me. What can I say? I live a sheltered life." hehehe "Oh, you want to know what music groups?"

Lady Antebellum
Keith Urban

The fun part of the music experience for me is that I also sing. (Shhh. This is a little known secret.) So as part of my voice lessons each week I am learning the music and singing the words to the new songs that I was introduced to. AND this is so great for me because I am finally conquering those pesky two midrange notes that drive me cringe. "Yea me!"

OH! I ran my first 5K ever. Wow! What an experience. All I can say is, "Don't drink water before you do the race." Actually, I very much enjoyed finding the Windham rail trail and training for the run. I enjoyed doing it and reaching my goal of under 12 minutes per mile. "Hey! Nobody said I was a speed demon." Next year my goal is three races. Wish me luck.

Lastly, I started taking shooting lessons. "Don't mess with this blonde." As of last week, I learned to control the .380 to the point of being able to shoot 7 holes into a life-size target's head. "You don't want to know what parts of the man's body I hit with the .45." Suffice it to say, I had a HUGE grin on my face and retired Gunnery Sergeant Mike Stevens AKA Gunny told me, "Don't even talk about it." hehe You think he felt empathy for the paper target?

So what did you do this summer?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dewey Read-A-Thon Day

Twice a year Dewey's Read-a-thon hosts a real live read-a-thon. Bloggers read and post about what they read and encourage other participants. They arrange for cheerleaders to boost your reading and encourage you to not give up in those last 5 hours. There are mini-challenges throught the 24 hours and even prizes.

If you don't blog, don't worry about it. Visit here and share what you have read, what is keeping you going (like Cheetos, Mountain Dew, delivered pizza), what's your goal, and what's next on your list. Go sign-up at Dewey's Read-a-thon and let me know and we will keep each other awake and motivated for the next 24 hours.

Think of it - reading, reading, and reading!

It starts today at 8AM east coast time. So, if you've got a few books that have been on your reading list, or in your to-be-read pile then pull them out, grab a comfy chair, a good lamp, and a whole lot of snack food and start reading.

Now, you don't have to stop doing everything so if you have to go out to eat with your hubby or do some laundry then do it. Just take a book with you. While your date is boring you to death you can sneak off to the ladies' room and read a page or two. OH! E-books would be a great way to deal with that pesky date. Just set it on your seat while he chatters on about his work or his manliness.

Last time I think I finished 4 books, which isn't a lot, but like I said you can still do other things in between books.

My goal this time is to do 5 books. Hey! It's an improvement.

I'm starting my marathon with Carolina Moon and Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts.

Now I have to go to my Saturday morning lesson, but while I'm driving there I will be listening to an audiobook.


We've reached hour 9 and I've finished my first 2 books. WOOT! Not bad for someone who had to go shooting before she got to get cozy in her chair and a couple of good books.

Thanks to the cheerleaders for stopping by and leaving me notes of encouragement.

My next two books are a couple more by Nora Roberts. Hm...there must be a theme to this reading. I'm going to finish the Three Sister's Island Trilogy for my next two books. Next up:

A little over 8 hours left.
Whew! How goes the reading?

What has helped you stay awake, keep you reading? Did you prop your eyelids open with toothpicks? Splash your face with cold water?

Do you have a pile of junk food wrappers on the table sitting next to you?

Me - I took a break and made some spicy chili. I've switched chairs to give my hiney a rest. I haven't reached for the ceffeine yet, but that may be soon.

Right now I'm sucking on little jelly-filled raspberry candies. Ahh! SUGAR!

But the good news is. . . I've finished my first 4 books. YIPPEE! Now I'm going to get up and stretch, and yes, get some caffeine, and go find my next 2 books.

Keep up the good work. Keep reading!

Two hours left and we're almost there!

Can you believe you've been up for almost 24 hours? Can you believe you've been reading for almost 24 hours? Time flies when you're having fun!

Yea me! I have surpassed my goal.

How about you? How'd you do?

Finished Janet Evanovich's latest novel. Currently reading Tess Gerristen's latest release.

Last Read-a-thon Post:

I did it! This is my second Dewey Read-a-thon and the second time I managed to stay awake and read. Of course, my hiney is now flat, and I probably stink but can't tell from the morning breath related to all the junk food I ate to stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. What exactly is bushy-tailed?

Oh! I'm also a little loopy and wired since I have now surpassed the hours of awakeness into the 27 hour mark. AND oh-my-gosh! I need food, real food.

Thanks Dewey's Read-a-thon for hosting a real live read-a-thon. I look forward to participating in the next one.

Thanks to all the cheerleaders! Your words and poems of encouragement were terrific motivation. You all deserve to have your pom-poms bronzed.

I have one favor though. Can you email us past participants to let us know ahead of time when the event will be? That way, little blonde flakes like me don't notice the event at the last minute. :-)

I will even donate a couple of books as prizes for the next Dewey Read-a-thon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rainy Day Writing Prompt Wednesday

I had a whole other prompt set for today, but then I walked out into the rain and "whoosh" changed my mind. It's a girl thing.

So. . . today's writing prompt is: She stepped out into the rain. . .

Finish that sentence, write a paragraph, or a page. Have fun and let the words flow.

Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wednesday is for booklovers

Booklovers who live in New England! If you are looking for reading material to get you through the cold weather ahead, authors Denise Robbins and Nora LeDuc have the right read for you.

Robbins and LeDuc will be discussing and signing their latest novels this Wednesday, October 6 from 5:30PM to 9:00PM at Borders Bookstore in Concord, NH.

Robbins will sign copies of her new release, Never Tempt Danger, which takes readers on a roller coaster ride of suspense, intrigue and romance in the clandestine world of government research and cutting edge technology.

LeDuc will sign copies of her latest novel, Pick Up Lines for Murder. Pick Up Lines for Murder is a tale to suit any romantic or mystery fan.

If you are in need of a good book to cozy up with in front of the fire on a New England winter night you won't want to miss this event. Mark your calendar!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oh, deer! Authors Pauline Jones and Denise Robbins have two new fans

But in this case, that's not necessarily a good thing...

How ominous is that?!

This is the message that greeted me Friday morning from my publisher when I checked my email before leaving for work.

Apparently Linda had ordered a bunch of books and all had arrived in two big boxes Monday night. All except for two books. They were put into a small separate box, which did not arrive until the next day, after Linda publisher had to leave for Houston Tuesday night.

Linda said, “I didn't worry, since no rain was expected. I figured the box would be sitting near the mailboxes, waiting for me to pick it up on my way in tonight (late Thursday.)”

However, her "ever so helpful" neighbor decided to bring the box up to her inside big gate, and since it was small, they must have slipped it underneath. Or put it very very close, at least partway under the gate.

Because. . .

According to Linda, “When I came through the gate tonight after midnight, I discovered that my two Fallow bucks had opened the UPS box, and were happily devouring one copy of Out of Time and a copy of Never Tempt Danger.”

GASP! See photo.

Linda ended her note by saying, “Well, these two have already "tempted danger" with me way too many times. I won't elaborate now, it's late (after 2:30 AM) and I'm tired...

So, these four legged boys are officially "out of time" and if they try this again, they are going to get some BB's in their big hairy butts!”

As for the neighbors, she says, “I'm not sure what I'm going to do to the neighbors. I'm pretty sure it was the little boy (who rides down on his ATV to pick up the mail) - I think his Dad is a paramedic. Perhaps I'll ask him if he can resuscitate the books.”

LOL! That would be a miracle.

“On that note, I'll sign off and try to get some rest.

Pauline chimed in later on Friday with, “LOL! Instead of the dog ate my homework, the deer ate the books. LOL! My sister says the deer in her yard try to eat everything! They start with her flowers, but finish anything and everything! Time to bring on the hunters. [GRIN] Oh the trials of a publisher. I think you’ve got a blog in there somewhere. Hugs!”

Pauline was correct. These two new fans would make a great blog post. BUT. . . being the mystery, suspense, steampunk and whatever else writers Pauline and I are we need to know more about these so-called ‘fans’ or as I have given them the nickname of ‘book bandits’.

Ergo we investigate and get a little more information on our culprits. What we learn from Linda is this:

This is a mugshot of one of the ‘book bandits’. He’s a white Fallow buck Linda named ‘Mergatroid’.”

Okay, wait! She names the deer Mergatroid? Didn’t the Hanna-Barbera cartoon ‘Snagglepuss’ use “Heavens to Mergatroid (Murgatroyd)!” as one of his catchphrases? The meaning one of surprise and shock. . .and trouble.

Hm. Me thinks the deer is aptly named. As a matter of fact, she calls his son, his partner in crime (a dark brown Fallow) “Junior”.

Linda’s eyewitness testimony states, “The two of them are always "up to something" - including eating the car seat covers on my Jeep in the carport. I swear this deer breed (a variety of European Moose, imported into the USA) is part goat!”

Yup! Having seen goats try to nibble at my mother’s shoes while her feet were still in them, I get a clear visual as to they will eat anything.

Linda continues, “The does are sweeties, though, and even though they act silly, they aren't as destructive as the bucks. Must be a "guy thing" that crosses all species. Search and and destroy...”

Now if you know Linda you would be laughing at that statement. Not because it’s not true. But because this is a woman who goes out at the wee hours of the morning with her shotgun in hand and ‘searches and destroys’ the raccoons that wreak havoc on her lodge in the woods.

Anyway, long story to get to the point of saying, “If even the deer want to devour our books, you should too!”

In case you missed the titles that Mergatroid and Junior preferred they were “Out of Time” by Pauline Baird Jones and “Never Tempt Danger” by Denise Robbins. Both are available at L&L Dreamspell.

Just be sure to send a note to Linda and tell her you prefer a copy without the deer teeth marks, hoof prints, or any other deer markings.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday's Writing Prompt Response

So, how'd you do? Did you try Wednesday's writing prompt? Did it give you a little creative boost?

If you did, share it with us. We want to read!

Here is my brief take. Actually, for me this turned into an entire chapter, but I'll only share with you a short paragraph.

This week's writing prompt was: He eased the door...

He eased the door open and slid into the sterile room. On silent feet he moved into the room and stopped at the foot of the hospital bed when the woman’s beaten and battered face came into view under the dim light.

Damn! He hated this part of his job. He hated questioning the innocent victim.

Hope you had some fun. Watch for the next writing prompt next Wednesday.

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