Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Is Almost Gone and 2009 Will Soon Be Here

Well, 2008 is almost over. At midnight, just as the ball drops in Times Square in New York City and the ball rises to the top here in Richmond, in Carytown, 2009 will sneak in.
I know I will try to stay up till midnight, same as my husband. Though it is getting harder and harder to do so each year. We won't be going out anywhere to celebrate--just stay home. But as reported on the news and early Show, we won't be alone as many people will be staying home to bring in the new year this year. The economy seems to have done that. But that's all right. What better way to ring 2009 in, but with your family, in a relaxed atmosphere and in the comfort of your own living room? You can drink alcohol and not worry about driving home or designating someone as the designated driver--right? I plan on making some comfort food for us and we are going to watch some rented DVDs and then the ball drop on Times Square. I have some wine left over that I won at a Christmas party earlier in December and a bottle of sparkling white grape juice I bought
since my husband's on call for his job and can't drink. We'll toast in the New Year, comfortable and relaxed. Unless hubby gets called out on a job.

The Baby
And now for some background on New Year's celebration. The symbols are an old man as the old year and a baby as the new year. The tradition of using the baby began in Greece, around 600 B.C. At that time, the Greeks celebrated parading a baby in a basket in honor of their god of wine, Dionysus. The baby represented the annual rebirth of the god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used the baby as a symbol of rebirth.
Now, though the early Christians denounced this practice as pagan, the popularity of this tradition made the church to reevalute its position on the matter. They allowed their members to celebrate the New Year with the baby, symbolizing the birth of Jesus Christ.
The image of the baby as symbol of New year was brought to America by the germans. They had used the effigy since the 14th century.

Luck in the New Year
People believed that what they ate or did on the first day of the new year would affect the luck for the rest of the year. parties would last past midnight and people would celebrate the first few minutes of the brand new year in company of family and friends.
Once upon a time, it was thought that the first visitor on New Year's day brought either good or bad luck for the rest of the year. That's why, you would want a tall, dark-haired man to be the first person to step through your doorway, for he brought very good luck.
Certain foods also bring good luck. Like any thing inn the shape of a ring is considered good luck. The Dutch believe eating donuts on the New Year's day brings good fortune. Many Americans eat black-eyed peas, because they symbolize good luck. These are accompanied by ham or hog jowls. The hog, and its meat, is the symbol of prosperity. Cabbage is another food to consumed on New year's day. Cabbage leaves are considered a sign of prosperity, representing paper currency. And in some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day, too.

Auld Lang Syne

Meaning "old long ago," or more familiarly, "the good old days," Auld Lang Syne is always sung in most English-speaking countries at the stroke of midnight. Partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700s, it was first published in 1796 after his death. There had been earlier variations of the song prior to 1700. These inspired him to write the modern redition.

So tonight at midnight, if you managed to stay awake, and either sing "Auld Lang Syne" or kiss someone, think of the centuries that others have celebrated it before you.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reading is Still the Cheapest Entertainment

As the news reports more and more, the economy is worsening.

People are fearful that their jobs may be the next to go. Christmas spending at the stores wasn’t what the businesses were hoping for.

And yet, I feel that books are the cheapest entertainment someone can buy. Whether mass or trade paperback, or eBooks, a book, print or on an ereader, can be read anywhere. In your home, snug and warm during the winter, summer at the beach, at the doctor’s office (hey, a lot of those magazines at the doctor’s are sometimes a year old), and when you’re the passenger in the car, keeping you busy from the long drive.

There’s something about a book that can bring comfort. You can travel without ever leaving home. Visit other countries, and even more exciting, other planets and dimensions. Fight monsters, fall in love with one, do undercover work, fly a plane or do a paranormal investigation. Learn facets of history you never learned in class

or learn how to do something you never done before.

Since cavemen huddled around a campfire and the village shaman told tales of gods and monsters, books have been with us through thick and thin. Magic lies between their pages.

And so I say, reading is one of the cheapest entertainment. Maybe with the economy and things too expensive to buy or do, there will be those who haven’t read much coming back to the fold, discovering a writer’s talent for bringing forth words and their own imagination is still and always will be, the best entertainment.

Read a book today and let loose your imagination.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Catch Me on Internet Voices Radio Jan. 1st

I'll be promoting my books (esp. upcoming ones in 2009 that I know about) on Lillian Cauldwell's radio show Thursday, January 1st, on Internet Voices Radio 4:15 to 4:30PM Eastern Standard Time. That time, go to Click on the Logo, and it will take you straight to windows media. You can listen to the show that way.
If you want to call up toll free and ask me a question, be sure to listen at the beginning of the show where Ms. Cauldwell will announce the phone number that you can call in on and say hi. It will have to be brief as there may be others who might want to call in as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

How to Learn About E-Piracy

Merry Christmas to all. Today I am just passing on a link to another blog. The author of that one, Jude Mason (who I share as my pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, two anthologies with, Shifting Desires and Coming Together: Under Fire) has done a fabulous article about E Piracy and how it affects both the author and you, the reader, too. It is an education for all.
Please go read it if you're a reader of eBooks, even print books. Same for authors not sure of the rules either
You can find it at

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Marry Christmas-The Christmas Dance

The Christmas Dance

Midnight came, announcing Christmas,

Stars gleaming like iridescent candles

And below on the forest green,

The faeries came out of hiding, glittering like lights

Christmas lights.

They danced, circling in a sensational array,

Wing tip to wing tip, scattered among moon-silvered snow

Other denizens of Faerie appeared,

Lords and Ladies dressed in fashions of magic

Christmas decorations.

From the low bough of a tree, leafless and covered in snow,

Pan played upon reed pipes

Music; seductive and full of good tidings,

All of Faerie danced in frenzy haste

Christmas cheer.

Bird songs filled the cold, crisp air,

Wings of many colors swirled in a cloud of feathers

Songs of joy melded with Faerie music,

Rising, swirling, tornado-like, to the heavens above

Christmas carols.

The King and Queen of Faerie came,

Splendid finery of gold and purple

They sat upon thrones of sparkling jewels and holly,

Beautiful, and terrible at the same time

Christmas wonder.

Then everyone stopped and the hush grew deafening,

Eyes so inhuman and yet, so wonderful

Watched the one star in the East, brightly shining,

It shimmered; they shimmered, all aglow like Faerie dust

Christmas magic.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Is Almost Here

Christmas is almost here--tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It's a time of magic and wonder.Children are anticipating Santa Claus visiting them and leaving presents. Yes, this year, many all over the world are worried about losing jobs or have, there is war, many homeless, and yet, Christmas is there for us all. The one time, we might truly understand the reason for the season, as they say. That we all might take a minute or two, and think about peace for all. To let the wonder and magic envelope us, and believe, truly believe.
Here is some history about the holiday. Know what started it all.

Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that marks and honors the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. His birth, which is the basis for the anno Domini system of dating, has been estimated by modern historians as having occurred between 7 and 2 BC. The date of celebration is not thought to be Jesus' actual date of birth. It have been chosen to coincide with the birthday of Mithra and the feast of the Saturnalia or the winter solstice, which the ancient Romans celebrated on December 25.

Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, church celebrations, and the display of various decorations—including the Christmas tree, lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes and holly. Santa Claus (also referred to as Father Christmas, although the two figures have different origins) is a popular mythological figure often associated with bringing gifts at Christmas. Santa is generally believed to be the result of a syncretization between St. Nicholas of Myra and elements from pagan Nordic and Christian mythology, and his modern appearance is believed to have originated in 19th century media.

Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christian population, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival. The holiday is widely celebrated around the world, including in the United States, where it is celebrated by 96% of the population. Because gift-giving and several other aspects of the holiday involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, Christmas has become a major event for many retailers.

The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's mass". It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038. "Cristes" is from Greek christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa. In early Greek versions of the New Testament, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ. Since the mid-16th century Χ, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ. Hence, Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.

For many centuries, Christian writers accepted that Christmas was the actual date on which Jesus was born. In the early eighteenth century, scholars began proposing alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the winter solstice, which in ancient times was marked on December 25. In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church. In 1889, Louis Duchesne suggested that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after March 25, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus. On the Roman calendar, March 25 was the date of the spring equinox. In modern times, it is celebrated as Annunciation.

Non-Christian Celebration

A winter festival was the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as people expecting longer days and shorter nights after the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Teutonic feasts. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900.

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas's popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

Sinter Klaus Comes to New York

St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society's annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a "rascal" with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a "huge pair of Flemish trunk hose."

'Twas the Night before Christmas

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." Moore's poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a "right jolly old elf" with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore's imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped to popularize Christmas Eve – Santa Claus waiting for the children to get to sleep the now-familiar idea of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve – in "a miniature sleigh" led by eight flying reindeer, whom he also named – leaving presents for deserving children. "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas," created a new and immediately popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore's poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper's Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

Shopping Mall Santas

Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday's rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a "live" Santa Claus. In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations. Those familiar Salvation Army Santas have been ringing bells on the street corners of American cities ever since.

A Santa By Any Other Name

18th-century America's Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning "Christ child," Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children's stockings with holiday treats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn't find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

The Ninth Reindeer-Rudolph

Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. The red-nosed wonder was the creation of Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store.

In 1939, May wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store. Using a similar rhyme pattern to Moore's "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn't be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph's message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular. Montgomery Ward sold almost two and a half million copies of the story in 1939. When it was reissued in 1946, the book sold over three and half million copies. Several years later, one of May's friends, Johnny Marks, wrote a short song based on Rudolph's story (1949). It was recorded by Gene Autry and sold over two million copies. Since then, the story has been translated into 25 languages and been made into a television movie, narrated by Burl Ives, which has charmed audiences every year since 1964.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Schiffer Book Has Official Title!

I will be doing a Christmas posting tomorrow, on how it all started. Too much going on today, getting galleys/edits mailed off to Schiffer Publishing, stopping by Creatures and Crooks Book Shoppe in Carytown in Richmond to drop off some signed books (including a copy of Haunted Richmond) for their giveaways, and baking to get done(I am so behind, thanks to edits). But today, I wanted to let all know that my new book to come from Schiffer next fall in 2009 has an official title. It is HAUNTED VIRGINIA: LEGENDS, MYTHS AND TRUE TALES.
So let me go. For those who been asking, if you want them out next fall as early as possible, let me get over to Fed Ex and get them sent off.Have a great Monday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today is Winter Solstice-Shortest Day of the Year

Today this is the Winter Solstice, also the shortest day of the year. In the link to the following article online, you can see that hundreds of druids, pagans, and tourists braved the gloomy weather this morning to gather at Stonehedge in England to celebrate the winter solstice.
Not being a winter person myself, still it is interesting to me how on two days each year is one for the shortest span the earth goes around the sun and the other for the longest day. Though in places like Alaska, they go into mostly days of darkness, and I am sure they can not wait for the shortest day to pass so that days will get longer and longer, bringing back more hours of light into their lives.
All this means to me, is that winter is officially here. A time to be indoors and read good books and good reason not to go out outside when the sun shines so I can do more writing.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Starting on Edits for My Legends and Myths Book

Letting everyone know that I might be able to squeeze in a Christmas blog before Christmas, but not much of anything else. I am now starting into edits with my editor for the new Schiffer book, (tentatively titled) Unique Legends, Myths, and True Tales of Virginia. It's a big book, so that will take my time away. And I have couple manuscripts I am working on too. Just letting anyone who reads this know.And with Christmas coming, which I spend with family, plus a book signing under my pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, in Norfolk, Virginia this Saturday the 20th, I will be busy. But that is good--right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Please Read-Help Genre Bookstore, Creatures and Crooks in Richmond!

I got this in my email from a mystery author, Jennifer Stanley. I am contributing a couple of signed books and plan to be there on January 31st. I hope this reaches out to other authors out there. even artists--if you have a picture that is fantasy, scifi, mystery, or horror related--signed by you. If interested contact Jennifer Stanley at If you live in Virginia, or call the store and order ( to have it delivered to you, please do so. You can be entered for a chance to win some nifty prizes. Their phone number is 804-340-0277, or toll-free: 888-533-5303. Their address: 3156 West Cary Street Cary Court Park & Shop Richmond, VA 23221.

Here's her email ands please pass it on to others:
Hello! I am a mystery author living in Richmond and have been writing other authors in hopes of soliciting help for a beloved Richmond independent book store. I'm sure you know Lelia Taylor, the kind-hearted proprietor. Hundreds of authors love her store as she has hand-sold many of our titles. I had a signing there recently recently and she began to cry and said that she may have to close the store. I was very upset on her behalf!

She asked if I could think of an event that might bring folks into the store and help her pay the rent. I am planning to host a benefit for the store on Jan 31st and was wondering if you could attend. The Event: Saturday, January 31st from 1-4. Come for books, sugar-laden treats, and door prizes.

Who’s Involved: In short, over one hundred authors from across the country contributed to the dozen fabulous raffle prizes to be given away on the 31st. This event will be the culmination of a month-long contest in which customers will earn a raffle ticket for every $25 they spend during the month of January. (This includes phone customers). Weekly prizes will also be given away. These prizes will include signed books from authors in the field of mystery, fantasy, horror, nonfiction, and children’s fiction.

The authors attending the January 31st event at the bookstore as of this date are Katherine Neville, Donna Andrews, Ellen Crosby, Maria Lima, Ellen Byerrum, Andy Straka, Joseph Guion, John Gilstrap, Austin S. Camacho, Maggie Stiefvater, and J.B Stanley. We are also getting contributions from big names in our field, including a vampire basket from Charlaine Harris, a character donation from Margaret Maron, gold and sapphire earrings from Denise Swanson, a Carolyn Hart prize, a culinary basket including goodies from Joanne Fluke, a Tiffany necklace and much, much more.

If you can't attend, would you consider mailing me a signed book or another prize donation? And if you know any other authors in your genre who might get involved, would you pass them this message? Thanks so much!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sci-Fi’s Grand Old Man Forrest J Ackerman Dies

Forrest J. Ackerman passed away Thursday. Read more at the link below. I have one of his books, signed, thanks to a good friend of mine who's a friend of his and interviewed him countless times. It is time to bow our heads down for another legend that passed away.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You Can Preorder Anthology My Story, "Misery Loves Company" Is In

I have horror short story (ghost), "Misery Loves Company" to be in the following anthology coming January 2009 for $16.00, published by R J Buckley Publishing. Preorder it at .

When it is out it will be available on Amazon and in brick and mortor bookstores.
The World Outside the Window
by 19 authors in the Amazon Shorts Pgram

Imagine, if you will, a building of unknown origin. A building in which there are many rooms, each with a window that looks out upon a courtyard and a scene beyond.

In each room a person sits, staring out the window at the same people and objects that everyone else sees from their windows. Yet, as we tell our stories of what we see, we learn a basic truth of the universe. We learn that even though our eyes survey identical scenes, our minds take us to places that only we as individuals know and remind us of stories that only we can tell.

Outside the window we see a winding country lane leading into the distant countryside. We see two boys, perhaps 10 or 12 years old, tossing a baseball to each other. A girl of maybe 7 or 8 swings on a schoolyard swing set, while two lovers walk hand in hand along the side of the road. A ramshackle old mailbox sits on a slanted post, and nearby there is an old car, possibly from the ‘50s - appearing to be in good running condition. We see a church steeple and an older woman walking along the side of the road, seemingly headed for the church. A young soldier stands still, his face is pensive, and it is plain to see that he has much on his mind. Two men are in a heated discussion about something, but from inside our window we can only guess at what is causing their turmoil. Nearby a beautiful girl sits on a park bench, weeping. An old dog lies on the grass, peaceful and serene, watching a puppy frolicking through a flower bed. As day changes to evening and then to night, we see a twinkle in the sky. A falling star, perhaps a starship?

Yes, the characters are there for us, waiting, making no comments that will give us any clue as to who they are or what they may be doing. They are waiting for us to cast them in their roles, to give them direction. We can use one or all of them. We can make them walk down the country lane, drive the car, or follow along behind the woman as she heads for the church. It is our world to create, and we have total control of everything in it. Whatever happens, we make it happen. Loves, lies, war or peace, death or life, shackled to earth or bound for the stars, it is in our hands to decide their fate.

We sit at the window, taking in the complexity of the scene before us and after a few hours of pondering, we sit back and relax as we use our mind’s eye to peer into a world that we will shape into anything we wish it to be.

Slowly, we begin. We pick up our pens and write our stories of the world outside the window.


FALLEN STAR, RISING STAR – Mark Terence Chapman
SMILE – Anthony Waugh
THE SILVER LINING – Rebecca Buckley
THE BLACK ROSE – Woodrow Walker
THE SPLIT MIND – Robert A. Meacham
NEAL’S NOEL – Jay Osman
THE MAILBOX – Larry L. Evans
ETUDE & SMOKE RINGS – Lana M. Ho-Sheing
TWILIGHT – Matthew Alan Pierce
HOUSE ARREST – Richard Lord
ST – E. Don Harpe

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Review of X-Files: I Want to Believe DVD

I didn't get to see this film in the theaters this past summer, so wanting to rent the Blu-ray version of it, I made sure I was at Blockbuster at 10AM. First, they separated deliveries for regular DVDs and the High Defs. I came back at 11:15AM, only to find they only got Wanted in Blu-ray only. I went ahead and got me the regular DVD of X-Files: I Want to Believe.
I had seen reviews of it and saw that it seemed more watered down from the TV show and even the first film. But I still enjoyed it. This time, instead of the alien thread, they used one of those stand alone horror episodes made into a movie. The villain in this piece didn't scare me much, except during one scene when he watched one of his victims to be get out of a pool and sunk into the water, with a nasty grin. But the actor didn't make his character evil enough. Yes, he disgusted me, considering what he was having done to the women he kidnapped. But no, not heart stopping evil.
David Duchovney was Mulder, though Gillian Anderson seemed more watered down at first form the way she played Scully in the series. Then toward the end of the film, she brought back the feisty Scully I knew.
If you're looking for perfection, for the best of X-Files when the series was at its hey day, then you will be disappointed. But if you are a fan, I promise you you will enjoy this movie.
I give X-Files: I want to Believe 3 1/2 dragons.