Thursday, December 31, 2015

HAPPY New Year!


It’s coming,
See the brand-new shininess
Like a baby about to be born.

Watch the old year creep off
To hide away in a darkened corner,
Party with the new year
Its laughter is sexy and happy.
Fortunes come and fortunes go,
But know this…
With good friends and family,
2016 will be the best yet!

May 2016 begin with a bang and not a whimper for everyone! 

Friday, December 25, 2015

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!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Supernatural Friday: The Story Behind Santa Claus

I want to apologized using a post from 2011, but with going to see Star Wars:The Force Awakens, a friend's party and helping the husband at a table for a local convention at a theater where Star Wars is showing, the weekend, staring tomorrow, will be a busy on.  For thoe wh read it years ago, I am sorry, for those who come to it new, enjoy. 

"You better watch out

You better not cry

Better not pout

I’m telling you why

Santa Clause is coming to town."

~from song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. 

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and even as Kris Kringle is a figure with mythical, historical, and folkloric aspects. In many western cultures, he is supposed to bring gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24. The modern figure was derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas.. This legendary being may have part of basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of a real man, Saint Nicholas. There is a nearly identical story is attributed by Greek and Byzantine folklore to Basil of Caesarea. Basil's feast day on January 1 is considered the time of exchanging gifts in Greece.

Most of us think he always wore the red coat and pants, trimmed in white fur, black boots and belt, and red hat trimmed in white fur and a ball of white fur like a tassel at the end. But that version did not appeared until the 1823 poem, “Night Before Christmas,” written by Clement Clarke Moore, which was called a “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”Thomas Nast, considered to be the father of the American cartoon, was the first to have created the first image of Santa as we know today. But the name, Santa Claus, was first used in the American press in 1773. 

According to a tradition, Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, with a large number of elves, and nine (originally eight) flying reindeer. Since the 20th century, in an idea popularized by the 1934 song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", Santa Claus has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior ("naughty" or "nice") and to deliver presents, including toys, fruit and candy to all of the good boys and girls in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves that make the toys in the workshop and the reindeer who pull his sleigh.

Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Sinterklaas. A 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia (now Turkey), Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor. One well-known tale concerned him presenting three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe (particularly, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Germany) he is still portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Christian Saint and to procure his remains. The reliquary of St. Nicholas was desecrated by Italian sailors and the spoils, including his relics, were taken to Bari where they are kept to this day. Saint Nicholas later became proclaimed as the patron saint of an odd assemble of peoples: archers, sailors, and children, to even pawnbrokers. He is also the patron saint of both Amsterdam and Moscow.There are numerous parallels between Santa and Odin of Norse Mythology. There are theories regarding the pagan origins of various customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions, surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Santa Claus. Odin was sometimes recorded, at the native Germanic holiday of Yule, as leading a great hunting party through the sky. Two books from Iceland, the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to Santa Claus's reindeer. Further, Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions. These include Síðgrani, Síðskeggr Langbarðr, (all meaning "long beard") and Jólnir ("Yule figure"). According to some traditions, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin's flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir's food with gifts or candy. This practice still survives in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands and became associated with Saint Nicholas since Christianization. In other countries it has been replaced by the hanging of stockings at the chimney in homes. 

In the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Saint Nicholas ("Sinterklaas", often called "De Goede Sint" — "The Good Saint") is aided by helpers commonly known as Zwarte Piet in Dutch ("Black Peter") or "Père Fouettard" in French. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts. However, in the Netherlands the Dutch celebrate on the evening of December 5, with a celebration called "pakjesavond". In the Reformation in 16th-17th century Europe, many Protestants and others changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date for giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve. Tradition holds that Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and his aides arrive each year by steam boat from Spain in mid November carrying a book that contains notes on all children that indicate whether the child has been good or naughty during the year and gifts, chocolate letters and spice nuts to be handed to the well-behaved children. During the subsequent three weeks, Saint Nicholas is believed to ride a white-grey horse over the rooftops at night, delivering gifts through the chimney to the well-behaved children, while the naughty children risk being caught by Saint Nicholas' aides that carry jute bags and willow canes for that purpose. 

In contrast to Santa Claus, Sinterklaas is an elderly, stately and serious man with white hair and a long, full beard. He wears a long red cape or chasuble over a traditional white bishop's alb and sometimes red stola, dons a red mitre, and holds a gold-colored crosier, a long ceremonial shepherd's staff with a fancy curled top. He carries a big book that tells whether each individual child has been good or naughty in the past year. He traditionally rides a white gray. Though in the Netherlands and Belgium next to Sinterklaas, the character of Santa Claus is also known, He is known as de Kerstman in Dutch ("the Christmas man") and Père Noël ("Father Christmas") in French. 

An elf in Nordic folklore about the 1840s called "Tomte" or "Nisse" started to deliver the Christmas presents in Denmark. Portrayed as a short, bearded man dressed in gray clothes and a red hat, this creature was obviously inspired by the Santa Claus traditions that spread to Scandinavia then. By the end of the 19th century this tradition had also spread to Norway and Sweden, replacing the Yule Goat. The same thing happened in Finland, but there the more human figure retained the Yule Goat name. But even though the tradition of the Yule Goat as a bringer of presents is now all but extinct, a straw goat is still a common Christmas decoration in all of Scandinavia. Iceland has thirteen Yule lads that originate from folklore rather than Christianity.

Father Christmas goes back as far as the 17th century in Britain. There are pictures of him from that era, where he is a jolly well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe. He typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, and was reflected as the "Ghost of Christmas Present", in Charles Dickens's festive classic A Christmas Carol.

Today, Santa Claus is the image for the Christmas spirit. Parents take their children for photos with Santa at malls and shopping centers. There’s even a website by Norad where you can track then jolly old elf. NORAD SANTA

Now that you learned something of where he originated from, the question is, are you naughty or nice?  After all, you only have a few more days before he descends into your home to leave your present.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Supernatural Friday: Have Yourself a Ghostly Holiday

Long, long ago, people didn’t stay indoors due to the “frightful” weather, but because it might have been dangerous from dark forces that 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 out all year, especially at Halloween (Samhain-(pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ SAH-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ SOW-in, Irish pronunciation: [sˠaunʲ])a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year.), still, this time prove to be the scariest.


Many gathered together to celebrate and they hoped that the dark spirits would realize that with all the din that there might be too many bodies inside or caroling outside to grab one person. Another custom practiced were doors flung open at midnight to let out trapped evil spirits caught inside the building. A candle left burning in the window all night insured good luck for the family inside. Any candle that burned out before dawn was considered a bad sign.


It was also said that those born on Christmas are apt more to see a spirit than those not. Though they had nothing to fear from any ghost if they chance to encounter one. These same people were also protected against deaths by drowning or hanging.


This time of year ghost stores were told. Those Victorian people did more than go Christmas caroling or drank mulled wine by the roaring fires. Just as much as Halloween. This might be a good reason Charles Dickens wrote his novel, A Christmas Carol. There’s even that line in the song,  ‘It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ that goes "There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmas long, long ago," that point to this.


Novels and anthologies come out this time of the year, ghostly fiction or horror stories, many set around the holidays. This year, there is a graphic anthology, KrampusShadow of Saint Nicholas by Michael Dougherty, that released. I purchased it to read for a book club and reviewed it for I Smell Sheep Reviews. It is connected to the new Christmas movie, Krampus, and tells of people in a small town that encountered Krampus (a Christmas devil from pagan times who is also considered Santa’s dark shadow who takes bad children to Hell) who came one night. There is also a book of fiction I found titled Christmas Ghosts, edited by Kathryn Cramer and David G. Hartwell. Of course, there is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Perfect read for this time of the year. Nineteen years after A Christmas Carol was published, Dickens published another ghost story (no elements of Christmas in it, but still what Victorians like to tell around Christmas time) in the Christmas edition of the publication All Year Round. 

Many more exist, just search Amazon or check out your local brick and mortar independent bookstore, Barnes and Noble, or Books A Million. Or go to your library and ask your librarian.


So, besides a season of “good tidings,” it is also a time of terrible fear. Make sure your children are in at night and make sure they stay good. And 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.


                Have a Scary Little Christmas!

Friday, December 04, 2015

Book Signing at Books, Beads and More in Mechanicsville, Virginia December. 5, 2015

Catch me tomorrow, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Books, Beads and More. Not just a bookstore that has new and plenty of used books, but also sells crafts, art, and handmade jewelry by local artisans.  I will sign as both Pamela K. Kinney (includes the new nonfiction ghost book, Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area, and the anthology, Nightmares and Echoes 2: The Return, that includes my horror story, "Silence."), and as my pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan my erotic urban fantasy novel, The Witch and The Familiar, and a new anthology, Shivers and Lace that includes a new erotic paranormal, "Pick Up Date," by me.

The address for Books, Beads and More is 8324 Bell Creek Road, Ste. 100, Mechanicsville, Virginal 23116. They are conveniently located near Henrico and Richmond, of Pole Green Road. Their phone number is 804-730-2665. 

Supernatural Friday: You Better Watch Out! You Better Beware! Krampus Is Coming for You!

Christmas is not just a time of joy, gifts, and goodwill, it’s also a season of dark myths and legends. In the olden days in Finland, they believed in Joulupukki. That word means Yule buck.

In December, pagan people had big festivals to ward off the Joulupukki. These spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. It 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. While most gift givers around the world deliver their presents in the middle of the night while everyone is sleeping, children in Finland get to see Joulupukki in the act of delivering the presents.
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. Though Krampus isn't a man. He has horns, goat hair, hooves, and claws, not unlike 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. It puts a frightening twist on “have you been naughty or nice!” And Krampus may be in some parts of Germany, in other Germanic regions there are Belsnickle and Knecht Ruprecht. While  France has Hans Trapp and Père Fouettard.


Krampus originates from Krampen--meaning claw. He is is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. Krampus is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer. According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they'd left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior).
This fiendish being is usually seen as a classic devil with horns, cloven hooves and monstrous tongue. Unlike American children who get coal if they’re bad, instead the Krampus beats them savagely for their misdeeds and then drag them down to hell. Born of a pre-Christian, Alpine Pagan tradition, he is identified by matted-black hair, along tongue that snakes out of his maw, and cloven hooves. He also sports a large wicker basket on his back, filled to the brim with thorny, unbreakable birch sticks for those beatings he deliversHe always comes with St. Nick who brings presents, but before the gifts are handed out, those who are bad is given what they "deserve" by him. 
A more modern take on the tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic involves drunken men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a Krampuslauf. This is a Krampus run, where people are chased through the streets by the "devils."With marathons where people run from zombies, this might the next new holiday marathon.  Why not runners bolting from Krampus devils with switches?

There would be young men that dress up in goat skins and masks they spent two weeks making and on December 5th, head out to scare all, and carry out "birching," mainly on young girls. Krampus makes the Grinch before his heart went several sizes bigger look like a goody two-shoes.

The Catholic Church forbade the raucous celebrations. Then fascists in World War II Europe found Krampus despicable because it was considered a creation of the Social Democrats.

Krampus is making a comeback now, due to the "bah, humbug" attitude in pop culture. Krampus walks—like the RVA Krampusnacht  to be held tomorrow night in Richmond that I will have to miss as being out of town— and Krampus parties are coming back with a vengeance.  Some can be found here:

Austria is commercializing the harsh persona of Krampus, selling chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns.  There are Krampus ugly sweaters, sweatshirts, postcards and more that on can purchase of their favorite Yuletide demonLooks like Krampus is fast on his way to becoming commercialized.

Gruss vom Krampus!