Friday, December 30, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Get Out 2016-2017 Will Be a Better Year?

The New Year is more than saying goodbye to the old year and hello to the new one. There are superstitions attached to this time of the year. 

But let’s talk about normal legends and myths. Open all doors at midnight, to let the old year escape without being stopped. Celebrate at midnight with as much noise as possible, for it’s not just for celebration, but to chase bad spirits away. Widespread superstition has it said that the Devil and other evil spirits hate the din and will run away. Church bells on a wedding day are rung originally for the same reason.

A kiss at midnight with those close to us and whom we hold in affection starts the New Year off right by making sure ties and affections stay the next year. If no kiss is exchanged, it will mean a year of coldness.

Bills must be paid off before midnight chimes to make sure the household does not start off in debt. Same goes for personal debt, as they must be settled before January 1 also.

It is said that the first person to enter your home after the New Year is the one who will influence how your year will go. It is best if the man comes bearing gifts in either silver coin, a lump of coal, a sprig of evergreen, some salt or a bit of bread. And he should be dark-hair, tall and good-looking to make it a good year. But if he’s a red-haired or a blond, well, he will bring nothing but a year of bad luck. As for a female first guest, she should be chased away before disaster hits the household. Hold the women off until a man cross your threshold. The first footer should knock and be let in, but never use a key to enter, even if he lives there. Then after he drops off his gifts and greets those within the walls, he should then exit by another door than the one he entered by.

Larders must be stocked and money in everyone’s wallet to guarantee prosperity.

Another thing about first footers, they can not have flat feet, be cross-eyed, or have eyebrows that meet in the middle (can this last one be a werewolf thing too, since a werewolf can be identified by having brows like this?). 

Another thing in regarding to good/bad luck for the New Year, is not to take anything out the first day, not even the garbage. If have presents, don’t even bring them in, but leave in the car until the second. This means don’t shake a rug out or take out empties. Some people say that it’s okay to take something out, long as something else was brought in first, most likely a first footer. 

Down South, people make black-eyed peas to serve New Year’s Day to get good luck and financial good fortune, especially to the diner. Other foods such as ham hocks, cabbage, and collard greens can be added, but there must be black-eyed peas as the key ingredient.

Other foods considered lucky are lentil soup (due to looking like coins), pork (pigs root forward while poultry scratches backwards and a cow stands still), and sauerkraut (I grew up with a Czechoslovakian mother, so I love this, as does my husband who is half Polish!). Definitely do not eat chicken or turkey the first day, since the birds scratch backwards, this means the diners will scratch in the dirt all year (meaning poverty).

Do a token amount of what you do at work (even if you’re off from your job and not near it even) on January 1st, but a small amount is enough, as to engage in a serious project that day is considered bad luck. Don’t even do your laundry or even wash dishes, as this may wash away you or your family members in the home (death) during the coming year.

Wear something new January 1st, to insure you receive more new garments during the year. Do not pay back loans or lend money or other precious items on the first day of the New Year, otherwise you’ll be paying out all year. Avoid crying too. That will mean that will be the tone of the next twelve months and do not, I stress, do not break anything the First, otherwise the rest of the year will a life of wreckage.

So far, sounds like your first day might be best spent in bed after letting in that dark-haired man. But you need to get up to examine the weather that first day. Yes, even the weather can make things bad or good. Like if the wind comes from the south, times ahead will be prosperous times and great weather for all year. But if the wind comes from the north, that means bad weather all year. Wind from the east brings famine and calamities with it while from the west, it brings milk and fish a-plenty, but will also see the death of an important person. No wind, a joyous and prosperous year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Radio Interview and Reading Archived

For those who weren't able to hear my interview and reading ("Monster in the Closet") on Speculative Fiction Cantina, you can here the entire radio show at

Friday, December 23, 2016

Supernatural Friday: "A Genre Writer's Christmas" (My Christmas Gift to All)

"A Genre Writer's Christmas"
Pamela K. Kinney

It was the night before Christmas,
And this writer was busy plotting
When all of a sudden--
Her characters came to life!
There was the monster from her novel,
It was chomping on a tasty victim.
The hero appeared, stunning in purple;
Well, that's the writer's favorite color, of course!
What did you expect: white?
He grabbed a sharpened pencil to duel with the fiend
When the heroine popped in midair and dropped down,
Into a container overflowing with paper clips.
Drowning, a clip in her mouth, she cried out for help,
And who do you think rescued her?
Not the hero, oh no!
He was trying to make time with a statue of a gargoyle,
That stood guard over the writer's laptop
For he had a thing for beings made of stone
The monster rushed right over in a flash,
Not to kill her or eat her,
No, with a gentle paw, he helped her up.
And arm in arm, both vanished to the monster's lair
Where in chapter eleven, they got it on hot and heavy—
Wait a moment…did you expect to read the scene?
No, this Christmas poem is rated PG.
The writer just shook her head,
With a click of the mouse, saved the story.
The hero dissipated, no more to be seen,
Well, not until chapter twelve, anyway.
With a sigh, the writer stood, snatching up her coffee cup,
Time to join the family and reality,
The story could wait for another time.
Because it's Christmas after all:
Merry Christmas to all and to all, a magical night!

I'm Being Interviewed, Plus Doing Reading Tonight on Speculative Fiction Cantina

I will be interviewed on the Speculative Fiction Cantina
tonight, December 23rd at 6:00 PM Eastern Time. For times in other areas: Central: 5:00 P.M. Mountain: 4:00 P.M. and Pacific: 3:00 P.M.
I will be doing a 5–8 minute live reading from Spectre Nightmares and Visitations, out of Spectre Nightmares and Visitations.
Author Randy Anderson will be interviewed too and do a reading.

The link for the show is:

"The Speculative Fiction Cantina is an internet radio program on the Writestream Radio Network that airs every Friday at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. It lasts approximately an hour, and the format they use has two writers
on to interview. Also, the writers are asked to do a 5-8 minute live reading out of one of their works. They look for speculative fiction writers (science fiction, fantasy (and all its subgenres), horror, alt history, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, etc.)".

Come relax from the stress of the holidays and enjoy the readings and interviews.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Winter Solstice Magic (Original Poem)

Winter Solstice Magic


Pamela K. Kinney

(please do not take the poem off as it is my original work, but share the link to the poem here with all your friends)

Chilly air,

Snowing falling,
Evergreen trees,
Sun above-though no warmth though.

Look through the mistletoe,
And see the fairies dancing
Deer are leaping,
Sharing the space with wolves and foxes
Birds are singing,
Snowdrops blooming;
That normally don’t
Winter wonderland.

It is the winter solstice,
Everyone is celebrating
Magic sparkling,
In twirling snowflakes.

Hush! Not a word,
Watch the winter solstice party
For one sound from us,
 And they will scatter,
The magic will dissipate,
With a silent winter solstice
Being all that you will have.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Supernatural Friday: It's a Season of Cheer; a Season of Fear....

It's that time of the year to smooch under the mistletoe, shop for loved ones and go view Christmas lights on the Tacky Lights Tour. The season is full of good tidings and happiness, nothing scarier than what might be inside that special gift from Santa Claus. Or that you might receive cold in your sticking for being bad and not good this year. Right?

WRONG! People in olden days didn’t stay indoors due to the “frightful” weather, but more because it might have been cold and dangerous outside. They knew in their hearts that dark forces lurked amidst the shadows of the snow drifts. Winter Solstice (December 21) was seen as a time when the fabric between the mortal world and the world of malicious spirits became thin enough for things to snatch unwary victims. Though the fiends are lout all winter, still, this time prove to be the scariest. When many gathered together to celebrate, it was hoped that the dark spirits would realize with all that din that there were too many bodies inside or caroling outside to grab one person. Another custom practiced was doors were flung open at midnight to let out trapped evil spirits caught inside the building. A candle was left burning in the window all night to insure good luck for the family inside. Any candle that burned out before dawn was deemed a bad sign. 

Another thing said is that those born on Christmas are apt more to see a spirit than those not. But they have nothing to fear from any ghost if they chance to encounter one. They are also protected against deaths by drowning or hanging.

Witches are a part of Christmas too—through our very own Christmas ornaments, or balls. In Scotland, people used to wear them around their necks to ward off witches. It was also believed in Scotland and Canada that if a witch touched one, her/his soul would be caught within the ball forever. 

A witch ball is a hollow sphere of plain or stained glass hung in cottage windows in eighteenth-century England to ward off evil spirits, witch's spells, or ill fortune, though the witch's ball actually originated among cultures where witches were considered a blessing. Witches would usually "enchant" the balls to enhance their potency against evils. Later, they were often posted on top of a vase or suspended by a cord (as from the mantelpiece or rafters) for a decorative effect. Witch balls appeared in America in the nineteenth century and were often found in gardens under the name "gazing ball,” something that has come back, as I bought one last summer to place in my own garden. However, "gazing balls" contain no strands within their interior. According to folk tales, witch balls would entice evil spirits with their bright colors; the strands inside the ball would then capture the spirit and prevent it from escaping. 

Witch balls sometimes measure as large as seven inches (eighteen cm) in diameter. By tradition, but not always, the witch ball is green or blue in color and made from glass. There have been others made of wood, grass, or twigs, instead of glass. Some are decorated in enameled swirls and brilliant stripes of various colors. The gazing balls found in many of today's gardens are derived from silvered witch balls that acted as convex mirrors, warding off evil by reflecting it away. 

Because they look similar to the glass balls used on fishing nets, witch balls are often associated with sea superstitions and legends. The modern Christmas ornament ball is descended from the witch ball. According to an ancient tale, the ornament was originally placed on the tree to dispel a visitor’s envy at the presents left beneath the tree.

Besides the ball, mistletoe was also considered a powerful charm to be used against witches, along with lightening. The lightening? Is it connected, as maybe caused by a witch? Good question.

This time of year also has ghost stories told. Just as much as Halloween. Charles Dickens’ novel, the Christmas Carol, Is proof of that. Those Victorian people did more than go Christmas caroling or drank mulled wine by the roaring fires. There’s even that line in It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year song that goes "There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmas long, long ago." There are novels and anthologies that come out this time of the year, ghostly fiction or horror stories. One book of fiction I found is Christmas Ghosts, edited by Kathryn Cramer and David G. Hartwell. I ordered for myself, a ghostly tale set during Christmas time for my Kindle, The Carousel by James Cessford. The eBook intrigued me to read it and it was not a bad price. Search Amazon or your local brick and mortar independent bookstore for other Christmas ghost stories to buy and read.

Besides, ghost stories, there are other dark myths and legends concerning with Christmas. In the olden days gone by in Finland, they believed in Joulupukki. Pagan people used to have festivities to ward off evil spirits. In Finland these spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. The Christmas Goat was an ugly creature and frightened children. It is unclear how this personality was transformed into the benevolent Father Christmas. Nowadays the only remaining feature is the name. The process was probably a continuous amalgamation of many old folk customs and beliefs from varied sources. One can speak of a Christmas pageant tradition consisting of many personages with roles partly Christian, partly pagan: A white-bearded saint, the Devil, demons, and house gnomes. Nowadays the Joulupukki of Finland resembles the American Santa Claus. This reminds me of Black Peter and the Krampus, both being Santa’s “evil twin.” In many areas of the world, it is said that St. Nicholas has a companion. This companion is Krampus, though another version is Black Peter, or Zarte Piet or Zwarte Piet. Black Peter is associated with the Netherlands and has dark skin. Krampus isn't a man though. He has horns, goat hair, hooves, and claws. Just like a demon. His job is to accompany St. Nicholas and to warn and punish bad children. He is said to carry a basket on his back where he will place the bad children and take them to Hell to be tossed into the pit. Puts a frightening twist on “have you been naughty or nice!” Krampus originates from Krampen--meaning claw. Young men dressed up in goat skins and masks they spend two weeks making and on December 5th go out to scare all and carry out "birching," mainly on young girls.

So, besides a season of “good tidings,” it is also a time of terrible fear. So get your children in at night and make sure they are good. And do the same for yourself. For you never know if that shadow moving along the street past your front yard is just someone looking at your Christmas lights, or something else waiting to get you! Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Bringing Horror out of Darkness Talk at North Chesterfield Road Library Tonight

I will be talking tonight about writing horror at Chesterfield County Public Library's North Chesterfield Road branch, in their meeting room. That will be from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. The address is 325 Courthouse Road, North Chesterfield, Virginia 23236.  It's free, but you need to preregister at  or call the librry branch about it at (804) 318-8499. I won't be selling my books, but you can bring any copies you have and I will sign, plus I am giving away two horror fiction books of mine to be signed.

Pamela K. Kinney, author of horror novels and true-life ghost books, will discuss the pleasures of writing horror; the legacy of classic writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley; and how modern writers like Stephen King and Virginia author Elizabeth Massie show there's more to monsters than just scaring people. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Supernatural Friday: The Holidays Aren’t the Holidays Without Holly and its Berries!

There is an old wife’s tale; lots of holly berries means a big freeze is on the way. Now, is this true? If there are masses of red berries on the holly bushes and trees this year, does that mean we are set for another cold winter?

Holly is one of the best-known evergreens because of its association with Christmas. There are over 500 different species of holly or Ilex. Hollies are dioecious, meaning there are both female and male plants, which cannot bear fruits without the other growing close by. The berries are poisonous to humans. But they are one of the few berries available in the winter and birds love them. This is may be one of the reasons why Christmas cards often illustrate birds and holly together. 

Sometime, there are no berries on the bushes or trees. One, natural reason is if there are no berries on yours, the bush or tree may be male and simply cannot produce berries. It also means that if all your holly bushes do not have berries, that they may all be male or they all may be female. Without any male holly bushes nearby, the female holly bushes will not produce berries either. Another reason for berry-less holly bushes might be due to the weather. If it is cold or rainy when the holly was blooming, this can prevent insects or wind from spreading the pollen, or the cold may injure the blossoms. Like in Virginia, there has been a lot of rain this year.

Though holly is brought into the house for its shiny green leaves and berries, which reflect the light and add color to the dark days of Yule, there is another significance as well. Christian symbolism connected the prickly leaves with Jesus' crown of thorns and the berries with the drops of blood shed for humanity's salvation. While holly is most often pictured as having red berries, the berries come in other colors too. One tradition say that white berries represent Jesus' purity, green berries the cross of wood, while black berries his death. 

Yet, there’s reference to these two plants in a pre-Christian celebration, where a boy would be dressed in a suit of holly leaves and a girl similarly in ivy, to parade around the village, bringing Nature through the darkest part of the year to re-emerge for another year's fertility.

Holly was the sacred plant of Saturn and used at the Roman Saturnalia festival to honor him.  Romans gave one another holly wreaths and carried them about, decorating images of Saturn with it.

Holly was also brought into the house variously to protect the home from malevolent faeries or to allow faeries to shelter in the home without friction between them and the human occupants. Whichever of prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved holly was brought into the house first dictated whether the husband or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year.

In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the summer to the winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the summer solstice again. These two aspects of the Nature god were later incorporated into Mummers' plays traditionally performed around Yuletide. The Holly King was depicted as a powerful giant of a man covered in holly leaves and branches, and wielding a holly bush as a club. He may well have been the same archetype on which the Green Knight of Arthurian legend was based, and to whose challenge Gawain rose during the Round Table's Christmas celebrations.
The folklore of the holly is not solely connected with Yuletide festivities. Like the belief is that if you hung holly over your bed, you would have good dreams. Like several other native trees, it was felt to have protective properties. There were taboos against cutting down a whole tree. A reason for this might be to obstruct witches known to run along the tops of hedges, though more practically farmers used their distinctive evergreen shapes to establish lines of sight during winter ploughing.
Folklore suggested that the wood of the holly trees had an affinity for control, especially of horses, and most whips for ploughmen and horse-drawn coaches were made from coppiced holly, which accounted for hundreds of thousands of stems during the eighteenth century.

Holly trees were traditionally known for protection from lightning strikes, to which end they were planted near a house. In European mythology, holly was associated with thunder gods such as Thor and Taranis. We now know that the spines on the distinctively-shaped holly leaves can act as miniature lightning conductors, thereby protecting the tree and other nearby objects.

Whatever the stories about the holly berries or greenery, it is definitely believed that it makes for beautiful, natural decorations at Christmas time.