Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping Ahead on February 29, 2008

It's leap year today. For those born on February 29th, it's their birthday. Of course, that supposedly happens only every four years. Or do they celebrate it on March 1st or February 28th during the non-leap years? Good question.

For a woman wanting a certain man, she can ask him to marry her. In many of today's cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn't look down on such women. However, that hasn't always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years--February 29th. It is believed this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. According to legend, St. Patrick said the yearning females could propose on this one day in February during the leap year. According to English law, February 29th was ignored and had no legal status. Folks assumed that traditions would also have no status on that day. It was also reasoned that since the leap year day existed to fix a problem in the calendar, it could also be used to fix an old and unjust custom that only let men propose marriage. The first documentation of this practice dates back to 1288, when Scotland passed a law that allowed women to propose marriage to the man of their choice in that year. They also made it law that any man who declined a proposal in a leap year must pay a fine. The fine could range from a kiss to payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves. In the United States, some people have referred to this date as Sadie Hawkins Day with women being given the right to run after unmarried men to propose. Sadie Hawkins was a female character in the Al Capp cartoon strip Li'l Abner. Many communities prefer to celebrate Sadie Hawkins Day in November which is when Al Capp first mentioned Sadie Hawkins Day. Strangly enough, there's a Greek superstition that claims couples have bad luck if they marry during a leap year. Apparently one in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid planning their wedding during a leap year.

This year, for my husband, they didn't take medical and dental out of his paycheck that normally only happens twice a year. This year it will be three times.

What makes Leap Year different for 2008 from 2007? Well, in February there is five Fridays this year and not four. It began on a Friday and is ending on a Friday. Between the years 1904 and 2096, leap years that share the same day of week for each date repeat only every 28 years. The most recent year in which February comprised five Fridays was in 1980, and the next occurrence will be in 2036. February 29th is associated with age-old traditions, superstitions and folklore.

In the Gregorian calendar--the calendar used by most modern countries--there is criteria that determine which years will be leap years. Every year that is divisible by four is a leap year;
of those years, if it can be divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless the year is divisible by 400. That makes it a leap year. That means that years 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300 and 2500 are NOT leap years, while year 2000 and 2400 are leap years. 2000 was special in that it was the first instance when the third criterion was used in most parts of the world. And the longest time between two leap years is eight years. The last time that occurred was between 1896 and 1904. The next time will be between 2096 and 2104.

In the Julian calendar–introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and patterned after the Roman calendar–there was only one rule: any year divisible by four would be a leap year. This calendar was used before the Gregorian calendar was adopted.

Why are they needed? To keep our calendar in alignment with the earth's revolutions around the sun.

Vernal equinox means the sun is directly above the Earth's equator, moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere. The mean time between two successive vernal equinoxes is called a tropical year–-also known as a solar year–-and is about 365.2422 days long.

Using a calendar with 365 days every year would result in a loss of 0.2422 days, or almost six hours per year. After 100 years, this calendar would be more than 24 days ahead of the season (tropical year). That's not desirable or accurate. That's why to align the calendar with the seasons we make any difference as insignificant as possible.
Adding a leap year approximately every fourth year, the difference between the calendar and the seasons are reduced significantly, aligning the calendar with the seasons more accurately.

Now, no calendar of today is accurate. they're off by seconds, minutes, hours and days every year. Making a calendar more accurate, new leap year rules would have to be introduced to the Gregorian calendar. This would complicate the calculation of the calendar. It will, however, need some modifications in a few thousand years. The tropical year is approximately 365.242199 days, but it varies year to year, because of the influence of other planets.

An interesting note, February 30th was a real date once. In Sweden and the Soviet Union once upon a time that is. The introduction of this date was temporary though. In Sweden, February 30 resulted from an error with calendar conversion in the 18th century. About two centuries later, the Soviet revolutionary calendar featured February 30 as a result of an attempt to cut seven-day weeks into five-day weeks and to introduce 30-day months for every working month.

How is leap year significant to you? Do you plan to do something different than what you would do any other day? Or is it just another day to you? If it's your birthday, how do you celebrate it on non-leap years?

For me, leap year adds one more day to write. What better way for me to celebrate it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shevacon Is Coming!!!

Shevacon is approaching. No, that's not a threat. It's coming, and that is that! I was a writer guest of theirs last year and enjoyed it immensely. And now I'm back this year. Don't know about better, but maybe still warped. I'll be doing some panels, maybe a book signing and reading, and if can fit it in, hang out in costume at some point with my husband--who wears stormtrooper armor--and other members of 501st. Oh, and party too. Of course. What's a con without a good party where on can let her hair down. Well, maybe not. A writer has her reputation to protect. LOL!
So if you're in Virginia, or coming to Shevacon anyway, come check out the panels I'll be on. Like Sex in genre fiction (hey, Author P.N. Elrod is on it, besides author friends, Elizabeth Blue and Kristy Tallman ) or the paranormal one with author Rosemary Ellen Guiley and two real-life ghost busters. Saturday, I'll be doing the Iron Author challenge. Plus a couple other super panels.
I can't wait. I need to let my hair down. Been writing like crazy the past few days here. Got a late night radio interview tonight at 11PMEST/ 9PM MST. It's Residual Hauntings Live Internet Radio Show and you can access it at . I'll be talking about Haunted Richmond, Virginia and my other works.
Anyway, if you're at the convention, do say hi. :D For those who want to go but need the address of the Holiday Inn Roanoke-Tanglewood where it will be held, here's their website link: Shevacon .org .

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dr. Jones is Back, and Good as Ever!

Well, today the trailer finally premiered. My husband and I watched it on Access Hollywood. Now those who know Bill and me know he has the official Indiana Jones fedora from the '80s and the costume. We bought a new official Indiana Jones fedora couple months ago at Cracker Barrel, of all places. Can you believe that?

Anyway, this trailer just got us excited and we can't wait until May 22nd when the movie comes out. Even better, the next day, we'll be at Balticon in Baltimore, Maryland. And my husband's birthday is that Monday, Memorial Day. Quite a weekend for us in May.

How many can admit seeing the Indy films when they first came out, even buying first the videos, then the DVD set? There's something about a man like Indy that is the perfect hero. Even with the odds stacked against him, he still comes out punching. And yeah, still gets the woman too. Every woman has to admit watching Indy on the big screen that secretly they wish he'd come along and with his bullwhip, yank them to him.

Anyway, I can't wait for the new movie for my reasons and my husband can't for his. And with this film and others, it looks to be a summer 's worth of super films to keep you out of the heat.

For those wanting to see the trailer that havent yet, here's the official Indiana Jones website where it's at: .

The man with the hat and whip is back. And guess what? He's just as good as ever.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Interview with Jenny Gardiner, Author of Sleeping With Ward Cleaver

ISBN-10: 0505527472
ISBN-13: 978-0505527479
Dorchester Publishing
AVAILABLE NOW! B& Borders Powell's .

A fellow member of my RWA chapter, Jenny Gardiner, just had her book, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver come out. It won the American Title III contest, sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine! Just reading the blurb and the excerpt from it has made me laugh and yes, struck a cord. So I asked her if I could interview her and she graciously accepted. Please learn something about her and her book, plus do go out and buy it. I plan to when I share the book signing with her and six other wonderful authors at the Short Pump Barnes and Noble in Short Pump, Virginia. For the addess and phone number of the store check my website at Pamela K. Kinney's and Sapphire Phelan's Website . And for those of you too young to know what the title means--Ward Cleaver was the father of the late 50s to early 60s TV show, Leave It To Beaver. For information on that show:


Claire Doolittle realizes her life hasn't quite met up with her expectations. Overwhelmed with the demands of motherhood and life in general, it doesn't help that the funny, romantic and thoughtful man she once married has turned into a real-life version of Ward Cleaver, the famously dull, bossy father from the 1950's sitcom Leave it to Beaver. And the last person in the world Claire ever imagined having to sleep with for the rest of her life is a man whose sex appeal more closely resembles that of George Washington than George Clooney.Throw in an ex-fiance who returns via e-mail to try to woo Claire back with promises of what was, and a sexy young colleague of husband Jack's, whom Claire suspects of some sort of hanky panky, and you have the ingredients for a mid-life crisis that threatens to plunge Claire's world into chaos.
For excerpt from the book:

1.) -Please tell us about your latest book.


2.) -What can we expect from you in the future?

My next book, which my agent will be shopping in the next few weeks, is titled MARY KATE GOES OVER THE FALLS and is about a woman trapped in an abusive marriage who goes out to pick up her husband's dry cleaning and instead picks up a handsome hitchhiker on the side of the highway, the lure of whom reminds her of the lip of Niagara Falls, said to tempt people to jump in.

3.) -How do we find out about you and your books?

The best place to go is my website: . I also have a group blog with 5 other fabulous debut authors and we have some really exciting guest authors including John Grisham, Meg Cabot, Meg Tilly and Jodi Piccoult. That site is:

4.) -How may readers contact you?

Since my book just came out, I'm just starting to get emails from readers and it is so gratifying because so far they've been people who totally related to the novel and really appreciated the book, which is so nice! (I would contact her through her website).

5.) -How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

I'd say mainstream women's fiction best describes the genre. Though my books usually have an HEA, so it sort of slips around in genres, depending on who's deciding!

6.) What motivated you to start writing in this book? Honestly, I came up with the title. I thought it was catchy , so then I had to invent a book to go along with it. But I've always been very intrigued by relationships, marriage, the fine line that exists between love and hate in marriage. My parents went through an extremely bitter divorce and I guess I was always so curious about how people can go from loving each other to hating each other, and if they can do that so readily, then can they go back again?I also love that women tend to blossom as they approach middle age--their kids are getting older and more self-sufficient, yet for men, they're usually hunkered down, entrenched in their careers, and not necessarily receptive to their wives re-inventing themselves. So the situation is ripe for conflict.

7.) -What kind of research do you do?Ahhh...LOVE Google! So far the books I've written work with Googling information I need. I have a book I'm thinking about writing that will involve me having to do a LOT of research on Nepal, so I have been stockpiling books on Nepal for it.

8.) -Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

When I'm in writing mode I try to write in the morning. Lately with my book coming out I've been completely wrapped up in publicity, so not getting any writing done. But I've got kids with busy schedules so sometimes I just have to write on the fly.

9.) -Where do your ideas come from?

All sorts of places. With Mary Kate the idea came from one night when we were sitting at dinner and we kept eavesdropping on the couple next to us and the man was very controlling and strange and extremely boring and from that came the idea of a woman who had to get away from an abusive husband, and how it had to be an act of impulsivity that was terribly out of character for her.A lot of times I'll incorporate things from things I've heard in the news or heard from people.

10.) -Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?

If you go wayyyy back, I'd say that I was really taken by the writing of James Joyce and J.D. Salinger. I like stream of conscious writing and I love an introspective first person voice. Current authors I really love include Meg Cabot, Jonathan Tropper, Bob Flaherty, Rick Marin, Alison Pearson.

11.) -How long have you been writing - have you always wanted to be a writer?

I've always had writer in me--in some form or another I've been writing forever. As far as fiction, I started making things up just a couple of years ago--I came from a journalism background, so when I realized you could just make things up it became much easier to write. LOL

12.) -What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

It's just so awesome doing what comes naturally and you have an excuse to do it when you're viewed as a "writer" rather than someone just hacking around on the keyboard. You can work in your sweats with no make-up!

13.) Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

Probably not. Once I write a book I sort of forget about my characters. But then it's fun to be reminded of them again, like when it is time to do revisions, etc. I become very fond of all of my characters as I write them.

14.) -Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)

I grew up in Pittsburgh, went to Penn State. I worked in newspaper, radio and TV, then worked as a publicist for a US Senator, then as a photographer (had a lot of fun photo shoots including Prince Charles, Liz Taylor, a World Welterweight Boxing Match, the President of Uganda)

15.) -Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Don't give up! And read LOTS!

16.) Now for something fun:

(I'm answering with the choices provided though my first preference might not be either of them!)

Chocolate or vanilla?


Erotic or inspirational?.


Favorite color?

Hot pink.

Favorite paranormal being?

I'm not such a paranormal girl, though I do like fairies!

Favorite mythological being?

Hmmm...have to think on that!

Do you like science fiction, fantasy or horror?

Not so much.

All time favorite actor?

McDreamy is pretty hot...Matthew McConnaughey (but he's sort of flakey!)


Drawing a blank on someone right now but I know there's someone!

All time favorite book?

Too many to choose from!

Favorite TV show?

America's Funniest Videos. (I love to laugh!)

Favorite Movie?

One of all-time is When Harry Met Sally, but I LOVED Juno.

What makes you laugh out loud?

America's Funniest Videos. Sometimes the Comedy Channel on XM Radio.

If you could go anywhere in the universe where would that be?

I'd stick to earth--maybe the Caribbean ;-) . Ooohhhh...I LOVE Africa too.

A secret fetish?

I am gluttonous with Peanut M&Ms.