Friday, December 20, 2013

God Bless Us Everyone!!!

Something shot through the small window and hit the sleeping girl, waking her with a start. On the meager blanket lay a bag that had burst open and spilled coins over her arms--more than enough for the dowry that would allow her to marry the young man she adored.
"Mama! Look!  I can marry now!"
The girl's mother rose from her cot. "Let me see, child."
 The girl's young brother, more bone than boy, raced back through the doorway with a cloth bag. When he dropped it on the small table, it burst open  and blocks of cheese, loaves of bread and a  partridge fell out.
"And we can eat!" The boy dug through the food stuffs and lifted a small wooden soldier. "This is for me!"
The mother came to the table, drawn as much by the fragrance as the hunger in her belly. "Yes,  a toy for you," the mother whispered. "And, food until your father's ship returns." 
The girl drew the cloth from beneath the items. A smile slid across her lips. "And, Mama, you can use this as a shawl to keep you warm."
The three gazed at each other, but only the little boy asked the question. "Who left these for us?"
On December 6, in the city of Myra in Turkey during the fourth century AD, a young man began tossing bags of money into the houses of girls who had no dowry so they could avoid ending up on the streets as prostitutes  or sold into slavery.  His name was Nicholas, the son of a wealthy family who continued seeing to the unfortunate until he  too had no inheritance left. But his generosity was not forgotten or ignored. The church deemed him a bishop, and after his death he became know as St. Nicolas, patron saint of sailors and children. 
The tradition of gift giving of course had spread throughout history and the world. Romans, as we know, enjoyed giving gifts to one another and often shared with the poor.  Yes they did.  
By the 13th century, this generosity changed to giving  to those less fortunate but without recognition, as St Nicholas and those who assisted him had done. By the time of the Reformation, Protestants changed the gift-giver to the Christ Child or  Christkindle, later corrupted to Kris Kringle.  However, in Holland, St. Nicholas became known as Sinter Klaas and then was corrupted to  Santa Claus.
America was thriving by this time and the Dutch had brought this gift-giving tradition to New Amsterdam ( later known as New York City)
Over time St Nick had changed not only his name but his appearance. He was seen as a tall gaunt man or a spooky-looking elf, as a tall lean man wearing bishop robes or Norse huntsman wearing animal hide  in colors from green, to white, to purple as well as red.  With or without a beard.
  Washington Irvin described Santa Claus as a jolly ol' gent in his short stories based on the Old English countryside tradition that he cherished.  This was captured by a an artist, Thomas Nast, who also drew Santa as a small elflike figure who supported the Union during the Civil War. Nast continued to draw Santa for the next 30 years, changing the color of Santa's clothes from various colors including red.  
In 1920 the Coca Cola company wanted  a wholesome happy Santa for their ads and commissioned Haddon Sundblom to develop images they could use to sell their beverage in magazines as the Saturday Evening Post and the Lady's Home Journal.  Sundblom used a live model to make his Santa... a friend and retired salesman named Lu Prentiss. When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom used himself by looking in a mirror.  He also used neighborhood children or pet poodles for his artwork for Coca Cola.
By this time, Clement Clark Moore's poem 'A Visit from St Nicolas' had  become extremely popular and had made St Nick into a warm friendly pleasantly plump Santa. We know this poem now as 'Twas the Night before Christmas" 
 In 1931, the world's largest soda fountain was in Famous Barr Co in St. Louis, MO, where  one of  Fred Mizen's first drawing of Santa enjoying a Coke was posted. I wish it was still there. From 1931 to 1964, Coca Cola signature color became red and thus  Santa's signature color   (and I would say it still is)
In 1942, Coca Cola introduced 'Sprite Boy' who appeared as a sprite or an elf with Santa. Together, from 1940-1950, these two  gave out gifts and Cokes in  Sundblom's ads.  The beverage known as Sprite didn't appear until 1960's

Now we already know that elves help St Nick, St. Nicolas, Kris Kringle, Krista Klaas, or Santa Claus deliver his gifts. 
But what about the chimney, reindeer and the North Pole?  From Moore's poem, of course. 
But where did he get the  flying reindeer? ...The Saami people of  northern Scandinavia and Finland harnessed heavy reindeer to their sleighs during the winter. 
Or it is said that from Oden's flying horse  with eight legs. And that fits because Oden was a model for Santa. He kinda does don't you think?
Thomas Nast  drew Santa living at the North Pole and gave him the  workshop and a  infamous book of names of good boys and girls.  
Then along comes Norman Rockwell and the popular image of Santa was all but etched in stone.
So today, this gift-giving time has not changed as so many sstill gather to wish
so many a happy, healthy, blessed, wonderful Christmas holiday. So, be sure to help give a family, a child, someone a smile this year and give a gift to make their season bright too.
But to many of us, the best gift of all is, was, and always will be...

Just for  the holidays all my books and stories are $.99. (Amazon wouldn't let me post them for free.) So be sure to snap them up before the new year. My gift to you.
Blessings to you and yours and have a wonderful new year,


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ancient texting and Modern 'cell-phoning'

My hubby and I were sitting in the doctor's office, each of us reading Facebook, news, emails on our cell phones. You know the drill. And a fella across from us said, "Do you to ever talk?"  We looked up and realized we were 'cell-phoning' or whatever you call it.

Then two older couples began chatting about the good-ole-days when people talked and visited. Their chat ventured into stories as making bread, eating bologna sandwiches, a one-room school houses, and  moms' preferring to make either homemade rolls or homemade cornbread.
 I just kept 'cellphoning' and wondering if their impatience with this new 'gadget', that has intruded into their lives lately, brought out this fascinating conversation. I don't recall this happening very often in most doctors' offices.

Then I got to thinking if I had been reading a magazine, a hard cover book, or my Kindle, would the reaction have been the same?

I also recently learned why teenagers sitting right next to each other text each other and not communicate out loud like we had to do?
When asked, their answer was simply, 'We don't want anyone to hear what we are talking about."  Smart kids. Growing up, I had to whisper.

I got to thinking again. (my hubby dreads hearing me say this) I wonder what was it like back before people could not read or write 
I could easily picture a young man reading a scroll on a bench in a city plaza and people shaking their heads as they passed a young man staring at papyri rolled onto two sticks, and mumbling between themselves:

"What does he see just looking at those squiggles or what ever that nonsense is?'  
"He needs to be working, doing something useful."
'How will he ever feed a family that doing that anyway?"
"Just what will that ever accomplish anyway?'

 Did they feel about this new fan-dangled communication, as many people do today,
that it was a grand waste of time?
I  bet so.
 Maybe it's true-- times change but people don' lest very easily.
Crazy isn't it?
What do you think?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Alexa Bourne...a wild woman

I had to make sure you met Lexi.
 Like so many of us, she too is challenging her dreams in this literary world.  And by the looks of things, she has a great start. I don't want you to miss out on her journey. So here she is.

Alexa Bourne
A girl. A writer and another great story for everyone to enjoy.

Howdy, I'm Alexa Bourne and I live in Texas. I’m not a southern girl, though. I grew up in New England. I love creating stories. 

DanceAwayDanger_v2I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t working on something. Seriously, even back in grade school I was writing. Even if I never got published again I would still write stories. It calms me, makes me happy and it just….completes me.
Alexa, what books other than your own do you enjoy reading? 

I’m a HUGE fan of Laura Griffin’s romantic suspense stories and contemporary romances by Jill Shavis. I like reading historical romances as well, mostly set in Scotland or Ireland. I also read outside the romance genre. David Baldacci, John Hart and Alexander McCall Smith are some of my favorites.

Okay the big question....Pantser? Plotter?

herhighlandchampionsilent surrender I consider myself a pantser. When I start a new book, I usually know very little about it. I know who the main characters are and I have a vague idea of the conflict. That’s it. I tell everyone I learn the plot as I write the rough draft, which I don’t do in order. I write scenes as they come to me, work out details for the plot and then I start piecing it all together in the 2nd draft.  I write anywhere and everywhere. I usually write my 1st drafts on paper and then type it up as I work on the 2nd draft. That allows me to be anywhere and able to write. I always have a pen and a notebook in my purse! 

carry me home 2fractured paradiseAs much as I love my job, I would like to be a full-time author. At the moment, I’m a full-time teacher and a full-time author. I would like to eventually be able to concentrate on my writing instead of splitting myself down the middle! So far I have 5 novellas out-- 3 romantic suspense stories and 2 contemporary stories. As I mentioned before, they’re all set in the UK.

Wow, you've written a lot of fantastic stories. What is your latest creation?

 my 3rd romantic suspense novella. 

This story  is the one I really want to talk about because it is set in Edinburgh, Scotland during the New Year’s celebration also known as Hogmanay. 
Take-charge bodyguard Colin Munro believes working for the International Protective Network will be the perfect occupation for him. Unfortunately, his trial assignment is protecting a woman who has no intention of blindly following orders. Aye, he’ll bring the bonnie lass in line because there’s no way he’ll allow her to ruin his chance of securing his dream job.
Physically and emotionally scarred during her stint as a U.S. soldier, Joanna Grainger wants nothing more than to enjoy life. New Year's Eve in Edinburgh marks the beginning of her transformation. But when she witnesses a crime no one believes occurred, her plans come to a screeching halt. To make matters worse, her sexy but headstrong bodyguard has no compassion for her or the victim.
As danger hunts them during one of the busiest times of the year, Joanna must convince Colin she's a worthy partner. But first, can she convince herself?

Joanna bolted upright. Darkness wrapped her in its hideous embrace. And silence reigned. Her heart raced. She flattened her hands on the mattress beneath her. 
Mattress. Bed. Colin’s hotel room. 
Rustling sounds came from the floor. The bedside lamp flickered on. Colin propped himself up, one knee bent and an arm dangling over it. He squinted against the brightness. “Are you all right?” 
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.” She brushed her fingers under her eyes. 
“Don’t be daft, lass.” 
“I had a bad dream.” She smoothed her hair back off her face. Moisture beaded at her temples. 
“Here we call it a nightmare.” He smiled, and at once she relaxed her shoulders. 
“Americans do, too.” After another deep breath, she said, “I’ll be all right.” Once her heart rate slowed to normal. With her forearm, she wiped perspiration from her forehead. 
He stood, padded into the bathroom, and ran the faucet. When he returned, he sat beside her, tucked his finger under her chin, and pressed the cloth to her cheek. The cool moisture soothed her burning skin. 
She reached up and covered his hand with hers. “I can do that.” 
“I know.” He brushed her fingers away. “But you’ll not.” 
After a few seconds, he moved the wet towel across her forehead and to her other cheek.
When he reached her neck, she sighed and closed her eyes for a few valuable seconds.
“Thank you.” 
His gentle caress reminded her how much she’d missed simple comfort…from anyone. 
“You’re welcome.” The cloth soon disappeared. “Now, will you tell me what you dreamed about?” 
“Mark Rawlings. I dreamed I was back in the train car and he was bleeding out on the floor. The guy with him faded into the background, but I could see the man’s hands and lips moving. I couldn’t hear anything, though. Then somebody jabbed me with something, and my blood drained out of my body, but there was nothing I could do. The guy standing stayed in front of me. There was another voice, but the words were garbled.” 
“Did you see anyone else?” 
“No, but at the end I wasn’t paying attention. I was losing consciousness.” She tilted her head to one side and into her palm. “Colin, what am I going to do if we don’t find the professor’s attacker soon?” 
We’ll take it one day at a time.” Strong, confident, able to leap tall buildings and all…even in the middle of the night.

DON'T FORGET Be sure to stop by my website. I’d like to offer a UK gift to one commenter! Please leave your email address in your comment and I’ll choose a winner Saturday morning! I really look forward to meeting you. 

I bet she's in Scotland here and be sure to leave a comment or two to enter her drawing

Buy Links:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marketing then. Marketing now.


How in the world did Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle get known?  Come on. They didn't have Internet, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs,Facebook, Linked-in, Google+. How'd they do it?
My only guess is by word of mouth. One person told another person who told another person. They chatted with him. Argued. Challenged.Same as today only we use Facebook, Google+ to tell our friends. Right?


I've also read that the advertising world is taking second-fiddle to this word-of-mouth marketing strategy as Plato's friends word-of-mouth. Friends telling friends. It's been said that that is the best form of marketing. . So maybe things are so different between than and now. 

But is advertising a new concept? 
 I don't think so.
 Okay, maybe they didn't have television, radio talk shows, computers, and Google+, but they did have parchment or fliers that announced the coming gladiator games posted around Rome
And maybe their news came from a town crier who stood on a stage and read the news like our newscasters do nightly. 

So I guess we all still like hearing the 'goings-on' in the world around us. And we still like to talk. Don't we?

We just found new waves to do it.  So keep talking, debating, arguing, discussing,
 my friends.
But be nice to each other. Okay?

Oh,and be sure to tell everyone about your favorite authors.  (Me. Right?) We need your help with that word-of-mouth marketing strategy to really work.  Like us on Facebook and Amazon. Pin our book covers on Pinterest. Tweet our book titles.Tell everyone on any social media you have about how you absolutely loved our stories.

And we will love you forever
And ever
I promise.