St. Andrew’s Day!

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This post is by Nancy Jardine.

The 30th November is St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland.

  • What does that mean for Scots?
  • And who was he?

The answer to the first question is simple. It’s an official Bank holiday in Scotland but not for other shopkeepers or, in fact, anyone else! With internet banking and ATM machines operating 24 hours a day, having the banks shut their doors isn’t all that significant now.

People do business as normal, go to school etc but the day reminds Scots that we are a recognised country and have been for many centuries. While a practising teacher, my school always celebrated in some way – by retelling the story of St. Andrew to the pupils; having a competition for the best short story or poem set in Scotland; having a ceilidh for which we had to learn the Scottish country dances over a period of weeks; or making and sharing a typical Scottish meal. The choices vary bstoviesut popular ones are cock-a-leekie soup; haggis neeps n’ tatties, shortbread, cranachan, or here in the north-east of Scotland sharing a large cauldron of stovies with beetroot and oatcakes.

http://www.thehecticcook.com/family-meals/traditional-scottish-stovies/

The second question is harder to answer since it’s shrouded in myth and legend and some around the world would even decry the whole story as fiction. Every year, I uncover another little snippet to add to the story of St. Andrew of Scotland.

As well as being the official Patron Saint of Scotland, I’ve just read about St. Andrew being described as a great candidate for the role of Patron Saint of Social Networking since he was possibly one of the earliest recorded men to be adept at ‘working a crowd’ (this is not intended to be insulting in any way but rather acknowledging great skills). As brother to Peter, they were important disciples of Jesus and Andrew was skilled at bringing strangers to meet Jesus. He was also, it’s claimed, very good at encouraging/ forcing the crowd to share their food.

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17th C Artist unknown -Paris, Scottish College Wikimedia Commons  

Now comes one of the big questions- why did a Galilean fisherman become the Patron Saint of Scotland?

 

I’ve given details in other blog posts before but here’s a potted version:

Greece, Romania, Ukraine, and Cyprus also have him as their Patron Saint but for them is might seem more reasonable since St. Andrew’s country of origin, Israel, is fairly close by. Scotland was considerably further away…yet not inaccessible.

Andrew, as a disciple of Jesus, spread the word of the new Christian religion throughout the East after Jesus’ death. He is said to have founded the first Christian church in Constantinople when it was still named Byzantium, but his problems came when it’s claimed he baptised the wife and brother of a Roman governor named Aegeas. The governor wasn’t happy and had Andrew crucified on a cross in the Greek city of Patras, approximately 60 A.D.

The Roman Emperor Constantine (who converted to Christianity) is later said to have moved the bones of Andrew to Constantinople (Istanbul) around AD 360, an era similar to that of the monk St. Regulus, of Patras (also known as St. Rule) who, according to legends, brought relics of St. Andrew to the ends of the earth – as in the shores of Fife near the present day town of St. Andrews, Scotland. Legend or not, it does seem to have been the norm of the time of the early Christian church to separate the skeletal remains of people like Andrew, sharing the bones around the Christian community as relics to be used in newly built churches across the Roman Empire.

Historical paintings regularly show Andrew crucified on an x shaped cross, the crux  decussata. (Latin: crux/cross decussis/ X for the numeral ten shape). I’ve written before about the possible reasons for Andrew’s cross shape being different from that used for common criminals (the type used for Jesus) but whether or not it was an insult to Andrew by the Roman governor Aegeas , the important thing for Scots is that the X shape became the basis for the SALTIRE, the blue and white flag used to symbolise Scotland as a country.

 

 

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Wikimedia Commons- Jim Bain project geography.org.uk

By 1070 A.D. Andrew had gained popularity as a special saint with local connections. The Prior of St. Andrews (named Robert I, but not the king of the country of the time)  ordered the building of St. Regulus’ Church in St. Andrews, its 35 metre tall tower intended to house the precious relics. The body of the church is in ruins but the tower still stands today.

 

Move on to 1320 A.D. and to an extremely important time for Scotland. It was the era of the Declaration of Arbroath when the rulers of Scotland wanted their homeland to be recognised by the current Pope as an independent country. The letter of declaration sent by King Robert I (Robert The Bruce) was for Scotland to be recognised as an independent sovereign state.

As brother to Peter, the great founder of the Christian church, having St. Andrew as a special saint in Scotland was thought at the time to have been a pivotal reason for Pope John XXII to sign the Declaration. The lords of Scotland also claimed that the original inhabitants of Scotland came from Scythia (Black Sea and now Romania and Bulgaria) and were converted to Christianity by St. Andrew. The timing would be a bit off the mark historically  but Scottish people who have done recent DNA testing might feel a little smug about parts of it!

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By signing the document in 1320, the Pope made Scotland an official country and Robert I its first official King. (NB Kings of Scotland who ruled over similar land masses prior to Robert I were documented, but not recognised in the same official way.

The first time the SALTIRE colours are mentioned was in 1385 when the Acts of Parliament of King Robert II ordered every Scottish soldier to wear a ‘white’ Saltire. In heraldic terms ‘white’ stands for silver, so the earliest crosses were of silver. If the uniform was white then the silver cross was to be stitched first onto a black background, which later morphed into the ubiquitous navy blue of the dark sky in some of the more apocryphal legends of the St. Andrew’s cross, and the one commonly used today.

Another BTW – St. Andrew also keeps busy as the patron saint of fishmongers, fishermen, women wanting to be mothers, singers, spinsters, maidens, sore throats and gout.

What am I doing for the rest of today? Why writing…and making stovies! 

Happy St. Andrew’s Day wishes to you! 

p.s. This artist is famous as one of the best living artists in Scotland. Hence the link. His Crucifixion of St. Andrew painting is quite stunning.  http://www.scottishartpaintings.co.uk/artist-peter-howson.asp

Nancy Jardine loves…you’ve guessed it – history!

New Facebook withnew TEBlog  Website  Twitter @nansjar  Facebook:  and  Rubidium Time Travel  email

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Novels are available in print and/or ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; and various other ebook stores.

 

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Remembering President Kennedy…

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Post written by Mike Staton.

A week ago I posted some comments and a photo of President John F. Kennedy’s casket and his widow and children kneeling in front of it. It was November 22, and 53 years before Lee Harvey Oswald ended the young President’s life in Dallas, Texas.

The post elicited six comments from people living back in 1963, most in elementary school, junior high or high schools. They had distinct memories of how they felt when they heard the news.

A high school classmate of mine wrote: “My first real glimpse of hatred and despair in the world.”

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President Kennedy and Jackie in a motorcade.

A cousin said: “I never thought an assassination of a President could ever happen in modern times.”

Two of my reviewers on the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror had similar thoughts. One wrote: “When the principal made the announcement over the P.A., my first thought was, ‘I hope the Russians don’t nuke us.’” The other: “I thought the world was coming to an end.”

My memories are not as vivid.

I do remember being called to my elementary school cafeteria to be told the awful news. I do remember sitting in the den through the next few days and seeing the ‘live’ news coverage of the murder of the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, by Jack Ruby, and the Kennedy’s funeral. And I do remember the decades that followed filled with news documentaries on the Warren Report and the various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

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My dad, Louis Staton, at the B.F. Goodrich missile plant where he worked in the early 1960s.

Back then I was in the sixth grade, one of the kings of Meyers Elementary School in Rialto, California. Soon, though, I’d be just a seventh-grade peon at Norco Junior High in nearby Corona. Dad worked at a solid-rocket testing and manufacturing facility in the desert outside Rialto and Fontana. Soon, though, the facility would be closed, and he’d move onto another aerospace job in Newport Beach. That was our life out there – dependent on the military contracts of the federal government in the Cold War era.

But all things come to an end. In the fall of 1965, as the Vietnam War heated up, dad and mom decided to return the family to Ohio to be closer to aging relatives. He accepted a job at B.F. Goodrich, but not in aerospace. Instead, he chose to join a new venture – experimenting with an artificial shoe leather called Aztran. I even got to wear a pair of test shoes after we moved back to Wadsworth, Ohio.

As an adult, I’ve worked my share of jobs in three states as a newspaper reporter and technical writer. Now retired, I’m back living in the West – in Henderson, just outside Las Vegas, surrounded by Mojave Desert terrain, just like when I was a kid in Rialto and Corona.

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This is me in sixth grade in Rialto, Calif., at about a month after Kennedy’s assassination.

I like to write novels. I have a published fantasy series to my credit. I call it the Larenia’s Sword trilogy. Check them out on the websites of Barnes & Noble and Amazon. See the jazzy covers for ‘The Emperor’s Mistress,’ ‘Thief’s Coin,’ and ‘Assassins’ Lair.’ They’re topnotch artwork by Wings ePress’s artist Richard Stroud.

I’m currently working on a Civil War romance novel. I’ve titled it ‘Blessed Shadows Dark & Deep.’ It’s been written and is now being edited. I hope to submit it to the publisher of my fantasy novels sometime early in 2017.

I have an Author’s Page on Facebook where you can keep up with my writing efforts. Sometimes I post short stories on the page as well as updates on the Civil War novel. Type in ‘Michael Staton’ in Facebook’s search field to find the page. It’s the only one with a book cover as a profile photo. No one wants to see my face, right?

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Winning the Lottery

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Someone won Saturday’s Powerball lottery drawing – one ticket holder scooped up more than 400 million dollars. News flash – it wasn’t me!

However, I did purchase three tickets and last week I purchased one. I didn’t win anything last week but this week I got $4.00, winning back the money I put in ($2.00) – my husband and my father each also kicked in $2.00 so we could buy a total of three tickets. I will share the $4.00 winnings with my family members who helped buy tickets – it’s only fair.

Wyoming is new to the Powerball, joining the multi-million-dollar, multi-state lottery a few years ago; prior to that, Wyoming residents traveled to neighboring states, like Colorado and Montana, to purchase lottery tickets. I would often buy a ticket or two when living in and later visiting Montana.wyolotto-ticket

I think many people dream of “hitting the jackpot,” of being that multi-million-dollar winner. Have you ever thought about what you’d do if you won the Powerball lottery, and if so, what would that be? I know I have, and still do. I wonder what that person in Tennessee who won on Saturday will do with all that dough? Had I been the fortunate person, here’s a short list of what I’d do in addition to paying off debt, including the mortgage:

  1. Create an animal sanctuary with no euthanasia (except for extreme conditions, such as medical reasons) – similar to Best Friends in Utah and Luvable Dog Rescue in Oregon.
  2. Donate significantly to combat human trafficking, particularly to A-21 Campaign and Shared Hope International.
  3. Assistance to Elder Care organizations like Meals on Wheels.
  4. Contribute to the development of water wells in third world countries so villages can have clean water.
  5. Set up endowments to food banks, rescue missions, and animal shelters in communities where I’ve lived.
  6. Donate to child health care facilities like Jude, and Native American missions like St. Joseph’s Indian School.

money-and-peopleSome of this I already do, on a very small financial scale –how much more good I could do if I’d have won $400 million on Saturday!

For myself, in addition to creating the sanctuary, I’d quit my day job, buy land, and put a home on that property that has a front porch on which I could sit and quietly enjoy my surroundings – and finally finish that darned novel (no, Novel Writing Month hasn’t gone well for me this year!)

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I had a lovely week: time with my pets at home, sharing dinner with a dear friend, delivering books to new friends, then heading up to Montana to spend Thanksgiving with my parents and having a booksigning on Friday night in the community where, in essence, the book writing began due to Sage’s adoption from a rescue organization in that town back in 2001. Pets, book sales, friends, family, great weather, beautiful scenery – life can’t get much better than that. Oh, money is good – it’s necessary, and if one has a lot of it, a lot of good can be done. But, good can still be done without much money: compassion, kindness, nature, loved ones, talent, sharing – those and more are good gifts.

gayle-and-mom-and-dadPerhaps I’ve won the lottery after all. I may not have a boatload of money to hand out or to put into retirement, but I do have a boatload of blessings.

How about you? For what are you grateful? With whom can you share your talents, your treasures, your time? I think those are good questions for all of us, especially with the holiday season upon us. We all have blessings, we all have gifts, we all have time – let’s share of ourselves, spreading the wealth of compassion, kindness, time, treasure, talent.

 

Gayle with book buyerGayle M. Irwin is a freelance writer, book author, and blogger who enjoys sharing about the pet-human bond. She writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults, creating her own books as well as being a contributing writer to several Chicken Soup for the Soul collections and to Sundown Press’ July release Pawprints on My Heart. Gayle also speaks in libraries, visits classrooms, and conducts presentations for faith-based and civic organizations. She has a two new books this fall, including a short story collection called Tail Tales and a humorous children’s cat book called BobCat Goes to School. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

bookcover_tail-tales_front-cover   bobcat-front-cover

 

Posted in blessings, family, gratitude, lottery, unique, Writing | 12 Comments

Thanksgiving traditions

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Thanksgiving brings along with it some entertaining — and delicious — annual traditions. But how much do you really know about where these customs come from?

From cranberry sauce and turkey to parades andthe annual foods and activities millions of Americans partake in each year vary in the depths of their historical roots, but each has a background worth exploring.

Why Turkey?

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Turkey is a fixture at most Americans’ Thanksgiving tables, but where, exactly, did this tradition originate?

A definitive history is difficult to pin down, but many historians believe the bird didn’t enjoy a place at the original Thanksgiving feast between the Pilgrims and Native Americans back in 1621.

 

While poultry of some sort may have been served, turkey was not mentioned in historical accounts of the meal between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Venison, though, was on the menu, along with other foods of the day.

The Oregonian noted that, while we can’t be sure of when the turkey came into the mix, there is one key figure who advocated for the bird to be served on Thanksgiving — Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879).

Not only did Hale, a well-known writer (she penned “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” among other works), urge families to adopt certain foods like turkey, but she was also the driving force behind pushing the U.S. government to adopt Thanksgiving as an official holiday.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln obliged — and here we are today.

 

Where Did the Cranberry Sauce Originate?

Whether or not you love cranberry sauce or hate it, it doesn’t matter because it’s now a tradition. Pilgrims likely weren’t devouring the commodity.

It’s unclear when the sauce was even created but people began commenting about a sweet sauce that was made from cranberries in 1663.

But if you’re thinking about modern-day canned cranberry, that’s actually brought to you by Ocean Spray, a company that began selling the product in the early 1900s.

It’s unclear when, definitively speaking, cranberries officially became a Thanksgiving meal fixture, however The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that, “Cranberries officially became a part of the national Thanksgiving tradition in 1864, when Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries be served to soldiers as part of their holiday meal.” Whether it was widely used before that remains a mystery.

Cracking the Wishbone

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The wishbone is often taken from the turkey’s carcass and dried out.  My brother and I

One of the odder traditions for many families is the debate over who gets to crack the Thanksgiving Day turkey’s wishbone (also known as a furcula).

My brother and I fought over the cracking of it and so did my boys.  It’s definitely a family tradition.  The participants wished for something as they cracked it apart.  I’ve learned that the wishbone has alleged powers which is a belief that dates back to Medieval Europe.

The Macy’s Parade

I have always wanted to see the Macy’s Parade from Central Avenue instead I have to tune into the television. Watching the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” is an annual tradition. While most American’s tune in on television, millions even flock to the streets in New York City each year to see the giant floats in person.

The parade started 87 years ago and has been a staple of the Thanksgiving holiday ever since. It was in 1924 that the parade, originally called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” and started by company employees, first kicked off.

Rather than using giant floats, live animals from Central Park Zoo were marched through New York City’s streets, a Macy’s history timeline recounts. By 1927, Macy’s was already using floats.

The event became so popular that the company decided to make it an annual tradition. But when war struck in 1942, the parade was put on a hiatus until 1944 due to a national helium shortage. The balloons were donated to the U.S. government at the time to offer up scrap rubber.

When WWII ended, though, the tradition simply grew in popularity, with Macy’s claiming that up to 3.5 million people now arrive in person to see the floats each year, with an additional 50 million watching on their television screens.

I thought it’d be interesting to find out the facts behind the traditions.  I love history, which is why I write A First Ladies Mystery series.  To learn more about me and my books you can look at my website: Barb’s Books or my blog: A First Lady Blog

Special thanks to:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/11/28/5-thanksgiving-traditions-americans-love-a-brief-history-of-turkey-wishbones-football-and-more/

 

 

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Do You Have Charisma?

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Introducing Pepper, the pigeon who came to stay.

by Neva Bodin

Because I belong to the Casper Posse of Westerners, (a local group that promotes interest and researches history on the Old West), I am reading a book recommended by them called With Custer’s Cavalry by Katherine Gibson Fougera, copyright 1940, renewed copyright 1968 by the author. She married a Lieutenant in General George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry and traveled with them. Her sister was also married to a member of that Cavalry. And she knew General Custer and his wife, Elizabeth. I recommend this book. Her writing is superb.

There is much written about Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, occurring in 1876. He apparently had charisma, something many leaders of people—good and bad—have. What is this quality that can lead others to greatness or death?

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General George Armstrong Custer known as Autie to his family

Merriam-webster.com defines charisma as:

“1:  a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader)

2:  a special magnetic charm or appeal <the charisma of a popular actor>”

While this is a definition for charisma, what constitutes this magnetic charm or appeal?

Who would not want to have it? Ms. Fougera describes Custer in her book: “…he was so distinctive. Tall, almost boyishly slender, he sat his saddle as though born to it. Golden curls, matching the yellow broadcloth stripes which ran down the sides of his blue trousers and were tucked in at the knees into troop boots, tumbled rebelliously from under a wide-brimmed white felt hat, shading keen, blue eyes that moved with a flash rather than a glance about him. A tawny mustache bordered his mouth. The thin, florid face, though not handsome, was singularly arresting, for it glowed with an expression of combined vitality and recklessness.” (Page 77)

I wonder if people who have charisma have a quality that each of us recognize, subconsciously, and which we would like to emulate? So we follow them. Do we hope to achieve that quality by following them?

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Reverend Jim Jones at a protest in front of the International Hotel, 848 Kearny Street in San Francisco in 1977. Photo by Nancy Wong

How did James Warren Jones, cult leader, inspire possibly 900+ people to commit suicide by cyanide in 1978, killing approximately 300 or so (according to some sources) children? I have listened to part of the tape he made as he explained to the people why they must die. Chilling now, but at the time he sounded so sure and sincere. Described in an article by one of his followers who left the cult prior to the mass suicide, he was passionate and idealistic about his beliefs.

What does that say about our wish to follow others? Are we so insecure that we attach to someone who is secure? Even if, like lemmings, we are following someone to self-destruction?

Heavy thoughts when I really only started out wondering how to make a character in a story charismatic. There are websites instructing how to attain charisma. They list presence, self-confidence, and living with a purpose.

One website cited Marilyn Monroe, demonstrating to a photographer in public how she could be Norma Jean Baker, (her real name) and not noticed, or become Marilyn Monroe simply by striking a pose and cause people to stop and take a second look.

Mary Kay, founder of one of the biggest skin care companies, told those of us known as Independent Beauty Consultants, to make others feel important. Giving others your attention, showing you truly care and focusing on them instead of yourself, attracts people to you.

Charisma, a quality to attain for ourselves, and for our characters. With it, goals can be accomplished.

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Gratitude and Thanks

Doris

Post (c) by Doris McCraw

We are coming on my favorite time of year. I am partial to the Holiday of Thanksgiving. It is not a time of giving gifts. It has nothing except the heartfelt idea of being thankful. Despite how horrible we think life is, we really do have many reasons for gratitude and thanks.

The world around us is full of beauty, we have only to look.

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We are surrounded by music, we have only to listen

How many of us have tried something new to eat, or savored the joy of eating an old favorite?

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We hold our pets, our loved ones, the delight we take in that touch.

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The smell of the air after a rain, of pine when you walk in the woods, or the rose you hold to your nose.

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Take time to enjoy and employ all the senses, be thankful for all this world holds for us. No matter what happens, we have so much right in front of us, so much that makes our lives worth living. So tell that friend how much you appreciate them, hold your loved one close, and be grateful and thankful you get to experience life in all its glory. Remember the quote from my last post “It takes life to love life.”

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ” John F. Kennedy

Thank you.

 

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Smile, Write, and Breathe

Sarah M. Chenby Sarah M. Chen

The past couple weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for me. But what’s been helping me stay on track is to think positive.

I’m probably the last person people would expect to say this. I tend to see the glass as half empty. Friends and family call me “the worrywart.” My therapist tells me that if you think enough negative thoughts, your brain develops these “negative grooves.” The key is to create new brain grooves with positive thoughts. And yes, this is extremely difficult for people like me. The longer you’ve been thinking negative thoughts, the easier it is for your brain to go right into that pattern because the groove is already there. Creating a new groove takes discipline.

However, I’ve made a considerable effort the past couple weeks to make some changes, both in my outlook and in my actions. As for my outlook, positivity is a big one. Here are some ways I’ve been doing this over the past week:

1)Visiting one of my favorite cities, Boston.

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Connie Johnson Hamblay and I with our copies of WINDWARD.

2) Having a short story in Level Best BooksWINDWARD: BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES and attending the launch party at Crime Bake in Dedham, MA last weekend.

3) Meeting fellow anthology authors like Connie Johnson Hambley, Christine Bagley, and Al Blanchard Award winner, P. Jo Anne Burgh (love our Twitter discussions!).

4) Visiting a new bookstore. It took me over 45 minutes on the T from my hotel but it was worth it. Brookline Booksmith was crowded and cozy, everything I love in a bookstore.

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5) Buying a signed copy of Rob Hart’s SOUTH VILLAGE, the third in his Ash McKenna series. I just finished the second, CITY OF ROSE, on the plane and couldn’t wait to read the third.20161112_154059

6) Touring around Hyannis with a friend I rarely see. What a cute town. We talked about writing and the 80s (maybe the fact I’m in a 1980s anthology had something to do with it). I came away inspired and energized.20161113_132312

7) Writing during the trip. I even left the conference early to return to my hotel to write. I’m always jealous of those writers who can do this. I was determined to be one of these writers. I even wrote on the plane the entire trip home (almost 6 hours) on my shiny new laptop (another thing that makes me happy).

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I’ll be heading to Phoenix for Thanksgiving so I’m hoping I can keep up this momentum to be inspired, think positive, and write. Even if I don’t write, I’ll be with friends whom I love dearly and when it comes down to it, that’s exactly what I need—what any of us ever need, really.

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Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. She has over 20 crime fiction short stories published in various anthologies and online including Shotgun Honey, All Due Respect, Crime Factory, Betty Fedora, Out of the Gutter, and Dead Guns Press. Her debut book, Cleaning Up Finn, was published May 2016 by All Due Respect Books. www.sarahmchen.com

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DUMFOONERT…just a bit!

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Nancy Jardine

This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Some readers may already know that I take my stock of novels and do signing/ selling sessions at local Craft Fair Venues. I really enjoy these events but have to say I never quite know what questions might be asked of me.

Last Saturday was a really good one. The event was one of the large pre-Christmas Fairs in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, with over a hundred quality crafters displaying their wares. I say quality because anyone trying to sell goods that are outsourced ready-made, and not home crafted, are not given table space.

So there I was answering all sorts of easy things before making sales of my books. What made me become an author? What inspired a particular story? Which was my first novel? …. I had some return customers who stopped to buy another book which, I can wholeheartedly say, really boosts this particular author’s spirits. But I also had some humdingers of questions!

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Photo-Nancy Jardine

One very well-turned-out lady lingered over a read of my ‘information’ boards describing the settings of my novels. She briefly responded to my initial greetings but said “it was fine” when I offered to explain the books- meaning no thank you. Then she proceeded to lift and lay the inspection copies I have available at the front of the table, slowly absorbing the blurbs, flicking through the first pages.

(n.b. photo is from the previous venue. I used a less crushed tablecloth last week!)

Other customers came and went and she was still there. Silently reading and quite absorbed. A spy of some sort came to mind but that was the fanciful author in me rearing its ugly head! Mmm… It was a new experience for me. I can’t quite bring myself to be an aggressive salesperson, so I waited. Then came the DUMFOONERT bit.

Eventually, she said, “Why don’t you just write in one genre? It has to be much easier to sell books that way.”

Ah! As a salesperson I never want to offend a potential customer, especially one who seems a little unreceptive to my wares. However, I’m always as honest as I can be, so I told her that any kind of marketing of novels is difficult and that it definitely would be an easier task to be ‘branded’ as a particular genre author—but I said that I don’t always take the easy way out. I told her that as a reader I enjoy books written across many different genres and that as a writer, I like the variety of creating stories across different genres. I went on to say that although I feel I’m primarily an author of historical adventures, I’ve loved the freedom of writing contemporary mysteries because I don’t have to think so much about the conventions of the historical era.

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Nancy Jardine-Celtic Fervour Series

She mostly listened to my spiel though asked the occasional easy question. Then, having picked up the 3 pack version of my Celtic Fervour Series she asked, “Why did you choose to write about a historical period so long ago?”

“That’s a great question!” I said grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I wasn’t dumbfounded at all. My list was quite long.

  • Because it’s a hard era to write about
  • Because it’s a pre-historic period that has very few written sources to research so I have to work all the harder to interpret the archaeological records
  • Because I didn’t want to write about an era that lots of other authors have covered already
  • Because I love to learn about Roman Scotland history and archaeology
  • “In fact,” I said, “I’m doing the FutureLearn  Hadrian’s Wall Course with Newcastle University right now because I want to know even more. (By the way I’m glad I’m squeezing the course into my already busy schedule because it’s proving useful already!)

I had a lot of positive becauses.

I was again DUMFOONERT when she smiled and said, handing over the money for the books, “You’ve convinced me! I want all three books. I wanted to be sure you know what you’re writing about and it’s not just crappy romantic drivel that’s half-hearted history.”

Did I have an answer for that? I’ll let you decide…

I do hope she’s a happy reader, except I’m not even sure if she was buying the gift pack for herself or for someone else.

Whatever you’re doing this November, have a lovely time!

Nancy Jardine writes in 3 different genres (smiley face here) – historical romantic adventure; contemporary romantic mystery; time travel historical adventure for early teens.

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Nancy is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Scottish Association of Writers. You can find her at these places:

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk  Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG & http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com  Twitter @nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

 

 

 

 

Posted in activities, author exposure to potential readers, justifications, marketing, questions, unique | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

The Man on the Flying Trapeze

Abbie J. Taylor 010

Have you ever been to a circus, watched an aerialist, and wondered how they did it or thought, oh boy, I’m glad I’m not doing that. Well, believe it or not, my late husband Bill, after suffering two strokes that paralyzed his left side, flew through the air three days a week during the six years I cared for him at home. The following excerpt and poem from my new memoir explains how.

***

At first, Bill didn’t like the lift, because it suspended him in mid–air while he was transferred from the bed to the commode and vice versa. I almost laughed when I saw the process for the first time, because it reminded me of the song about the man on the flying trapeze. Because Bill had no vision, I could imagine how insecure he felt during the process. We kept reassuring him that he was securely fastened into the sling and wouldn’t fall, but after his first shower, he said, “I’m not using that damn lift again.”

I was flabbergasted. It had taken one month to get the lift, and another for the carpet in the bedroom to be replaced so it could be used. For two months, Bill traipsed back and forth to Eventide for his showers. I had to dress him every day, not just on the days when his showers at home weren’t scheduled. My own back was starting to bother me. I was ready for a break. “Please, honey, just try it for another week,” I said. “It takes some getting used to.”

“It’s not a problem,” said Bonnie, our case worker. “Jean said you can keep getting your showers at Eventide if you don’t want to use the lift.”

I wasn’t about to settle for that. Because Bill joked about girls seeing him naked, I got an idea. “Okay, honey, just imagine you’re naked on a flying trapeze in a big circus tent, and fifty women are in that tent who paid $50 each to see you naked on that flying trapeze, and you’re going to get all that money.”

It sounded outrageous, but it worked. After another week, he seemed happy as a clam, being propelled across the room, hanging in mid air.

UNDER THE BIG TOP

 

Like the daring young man on the flying trapeze,

he glides through the air, smiles down on me.

I wink, say, “Bravo!”

 

We’re not in a circus but in our bedroom.

His left arm and leg useless,

a mechanical lift raises him off the bed,

propels him across the room,

lowers him to the commode, ready for the shower.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Posted in Creativity, family, Fun, Memories, unique, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Novel Writing, Book Marketing, Event Planning… Oh My!

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

November began with a BANG, and I was JAZZED! I had completed my magazine writing assignments for the year (or nearly so), book events were falling into place, and I had new marketing strategies to employ. Last Friday I secured radio and TV interviews for upcoming events and sent out additional press releases in hopes of setting up another radio interview and getting some newspaper publicity. It’s exhausting work, but I’m feeling optimistic and energized as the holiday book season approaches.

National Novel Writing Month/NaNo

Pets are my passion; should make a great romance story, right? Two years ago I started such an endeavor because of taking a college writing class. I was surrounded by several romance writers. However, I wanted my work to reflect my concern for the welfare of animals, therefore, I created my primary female character as a writer who rescues pets (write what you know, right?!). I received positive feedback from the students, the teacher, and other writers with whom I shared the idea. However, the romance genre is out of my comfort zone, and therefore, I put the story away. But, I a niggling persisted the past few months, and since I had completed nearly 17,000 words with NaNo 2014, I decided to dust the manuscript off and use this year’s NaNo as a catalyst to finish the book. I’m progressing, not as well as I’d hoped, but progressing nonetheless.

computerBook Marketing

In October, I began a subscription to ThriveHive, a DYI marketing venture of Propel Marketing. Cost is about $50 per month, and through it I receive ability to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts, have a website (although I already have one), create an email list (which I’m in the process of doing now), and have other marketing tools to promote myself and my books. I haven’t done as much with this as I’d hoped by now, but I believe it will be a positive benefit as I learn and apply in the future. Additionally, I joined TribeWriters, a course and community by writer-guru Jeff Goins; writers grow through learning, applying, and engaging. It too costs about $50/month. Between the two new opportunities, I hope to increase my book sales and develop as a writer (author and freelancer). I also became a member of several Facebook groups through which I recently promoted my Kindle books during free and discounted price days. I’ve been hoping to guest blog on pet blog sites, but haven’t managed to make those connections yet. I’ll save that endeavor for next spring when I can plug into special times, like Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, Be Kind to Animals Week, and Children’s Book Week. There are SO MANY PLACES AND WAYS for a writer to promote books and articles, to engage with other writers and with readers or potential readers – sometimes the possibilities are overwhelming! I wish I had more time to research and apply the various techniques and opportunities; having a day-job can be confining to a writer, but until the writing pays all (or at least most of) the bills, this is the road I must travel.

Event Planning

‘Tis the season for booksignings! Every Saturday through Christmas I have at least one event, and for that, I’m thankful! From Casper and Douglas, Wyoming to locations in Montana, weather-permitting I’ll be out and about reading from and (hopefully) selling books. I had my first reading of my newest children’s story, BobCat Goes to School, on Saturday; another is scheduled at an out-of-town library on December 3 (praying for good travel weather!). I’m blessed to be able to share some of these events with my friend Chris who illustrated the book; this is her first illustrated-book endeavor and her first experiences at promotion events. I enjoy reading, signing, and selling events, but they are a lot of work, including creating press releases and emailing newspapers and radio stations, developing flyers and sending to store owners, and making sure I have enough books to sell at each location. I’m thankful for the additional money holiday sales generates, but I’d like to find new and steady ways to produce more online sales (hence, the book marketing activities above).

These various endeavors help the month of November pass quickly. I can’t believe the middle of the month has arrived! What writing-related undertakings are keeping you occupied in the weeks leading up to the holiday season?

 

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallGayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults, including a Kindle e-book for owners of blind dogs. She is also a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as the summer pet anthology by Sundown Press titled Memories from Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart. She is currently working on additional manuscripts and short stories, with hopes of new book releases in spring 2017. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

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Posted in Business of Writing, Freelance writing, National Novel Writing Month, unique, Writing, writing a press release, Writing for Money, writing highs and lows, writing inspirations, writing plans | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments