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Author R. Ann Siracusa welcomes you to her blog
Pack your bags, pour a goblet of 1998 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, settle in a comfortable first class seat with one of my novels, and get ready to travel to exotic foreign lands for romance and intrigue—and a good laugh. Enjoy the adventure.
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It’s the journey that counts
Welcome to the Marketing For Romance Authors'
COLORS OF THE RAINBOW BLOG HOP
Leave a comment and enter a drawing for a copy of either book one of the romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinarie, or the sci fi romance All In The Game
P.S. MFRW is hosting Summer Camp on August 12, 13, and 14, 2013. Training classes on every topic you can think of are free to members of MFRW (which is also free). Hope to see you there.
This blog by R. Ann Siracusa was originally published
on the RB4U Blogsite, June 10, 2013
So there I was, minding my own business and watching Jeopardy on TV. Alex Trebek was talking to a perfectly normal looking young contestant, when the woman says…she's a Synesthete.
No, wait! Half the audience and I ask (mentally), What's a Synesthete? And while she's explaining that she hears colors…wham! A story idea is born.
Writers are always on the alert for different situations, and this one has plenty of potential as an intriguing setup for a novel. Author Judy Reeves says that the job of the writer is to observe the details of everyday life and record them for the world, and a big part of that is paying attention to how these details are perceived.
But what if…?
So, What Is Synesthesia?
Synesthesia or synaesthesia, which comes from ancient Greek words meaning "together" and "sensation", is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. It occurs because of increased communication between sensory regions of the brain and is involuntary, automatic, and stable over time.
In other words, synesthetes are people who's brains link two or more of the five senses i.e. see a sound or smell, hear or taste a color, and so on. It is a consistent perception of reality to that person.
And while it may be called a neurological condition, the term "neurological" only refers to the brain as the basis of the perceptual difference. It's not a medical condition and rarely interferes with normal daily functioning. It is what it is -- like being color blind. That's just the way those individuals perceive things, and it takes synesthetes a while to learn that not everyone perceives the world in the same manner.
While most synesthetes discover as children that they perceive things differently, it is generally reported to be a neutral or pleasant experience. Most don't consider it a handicap, but a gift or "sixth sense." However, some fear ridicule for their unusual perception, and may end up living in isolation and alone in their experiences.
Two or more of any of the five senses can be linked, but several types are more common.
Grapheme - Color Synesthesia
In this most common form of synesthesia, individual letters, numbers, or days of the week are perceived as having colors. While not all individuals see the same color for the same letter or number, there are some commonalities. Several sources indicated that the letter A is mostly likely to been seen as red; the letter O, white or black; S is usually yellow.
Spatial Sequence Synesthesia
People with this form of synesthesia see numerical sequences as points in space. For example, the number 1 may appear as further away and the number 2 closer. Synesthetes with SSS tend to have extraordinary memories and are able to recall past events and memories in greater detail and more accurately.
Sound - Color Synesthesia
Sometimes called chromesthesia, this is the form where voices, background sounds, music and other auditory stimulus triggers a phenomenon described as fireworks of color which fade when the sound ends. It can be a single sound like a single musical note or a wide variety of sounds that trigger the experience.
The sound can alter the perceived brightness, intensity, directional movement and other aspects of the color display, which is described as seeing it on a screen in front of one's face rather than in the mind's eye.
While the same sound doesn't produce the same results with all synesthetes, loud tones are generally brighter, softer tones paler, and lower tones darker than high ones.
This seems really weird to me, but what do I know?
Number Form Synesthesia
Whenever a synesthete with NFS thinks of numbers, a mental map of numbers appears automatically and involuntarily. Cross activation between regions of the parietal lobe that control numerical recognition and spatial cognition may be the cause.
This one was hard for me to understand.
The Galton Number Form - Wikipedia
Eric Johnson, software developer, writes on his blog that he see numbers differently. "I see them on a path—one that is and always has been the same. What shocked me about the image above is that it's nearly identical to how I see numbers, although mine tends to take a slight horseshoe shape. The only real difference is that my path keep rising up to the left (the 200s are higher than the 300s). If I'm counting, I sort of zoom-in on the particular number I'm on (each number on the path is written in a space like a board game), with my point of view, or camera angle, changes based on where I'm at on the number path."
I've always wondered if programmers see numbers differently. I guess some of them do.
Ordinal Linguistic Personification
OLP is where ordered sequences such as days, month, letters, or numbers are associated with personality types, such as the Wikipedia example where one individual said, "T's are generally crabbed, ungenerous creatures. U is a soulless sort of thing. 4 is honest, but… 3 I cannot trust."
Lexical - Gustatory Synesthesia
This is rare. Here, individual words and the phonemes of spoken language create a taste sensation in the mouth. To some, three senses are combines, and the tastes have colors.
Well, maybe this one isn't as rare as the researchers think. Doesn't the word chocolate cause the writer's mouth to water with that delicious, comforting taste? I certainly don't get the same reaction with the technical name theobroma cacao.
In some people, words evoke taste of food no longer made or on the market.
Mirror Touch Synesthesia
This form is also rare, but when the individual with MTS sees another person being touched, the synesthete feels the touch as well. They can also feel the pain of another when that person is hurt.
Perhaps there are real empaths.
Just a Few Words of History
The ancient Greeks philosophers seemed to be aware of the condition when they asked "Is the color (what we now call timbre) of music quantifiable?" Both Isaac Newton and Goethe suggested that musical tones and colors shared frequencies (which, actually, is incorrect). The first medical description of colored hearing was written in 1812 by German Gustav Fechner. His thesis stirred up interest, but testing proved difficult, it "faded into science oblivion." Medical interest waned until the cognitive revolution in the 1980s.
In the early studies, the estimated frequency varied widely, as high as 1 in 20 to 1 in 20,000. Since then, with more studies, it is estimated that 1 in 23 individuals has some kind of synesthesia, and 1 in 90 have colored graphemes.
Recent studies show that the condition runs in families, which suggests a genetic origin. There is an almost equal sex ratio, 1.1:1.
It's a complicated subject with links to other areas of study. If you're interest, I've listed several references to start with.
Hear Ye, All Authors and Readers
What kind of stories does this condition bring to your mind? Leave a comment and tell me your ideas.
LOGLINES AND TAGLINES ARE DIFFERENT
And You Need Both For Your Novel
This blog by R. Ann Siracusa was originally published
on the RWA San Diego Blogsite, June 6, 2013
"Cannot. Stress. This. Enough. Every week I see scores of pitches -- sent to my inbox, my ears or via script listing sites -- and every week I see Loglines and Taglines being mixed up. PLEASE STOP."
May 11, 2010, Lucy V. Hay (script editor and novelist)
IMAGINE MY SURPRISE!
So here I was, cruising along, a relative newbie as a published author, following the lead of others who were more seasoned in the business than I will ever be. And since many of these authors seemed to use the terms logline and tagline interchangeably, I labored under the delusion that these were just different terms for essentially the same thing.
Since a lot of attention focuses on these two similar but different tools of the trade, research was in order. I found plenty of blogs and articles that confuse the two, or describe the difference but use examples for one term that are clearly samples of the other term. A few pointed out the difference.
Both terms have their roots in the film and TV industries, but the concepts transfer equally well to novels. And since authors should have both for their books, they should know the difference.
First, taglines, tag lines, or tags are American terms, so if you are in the UK, you know them as end lines or straplines. In Italy, they are called pay offs; in Belgium, baselines; in France, signatures.
In the film industry, a tagline is a piece of marketing copy designed to go on posters to sell the film, or in a writer's case, to see the book.
Author Stacey Nash describes a tagline for books as "a one-sentence summary of your story. It's goal is to intrigue and make the person that your are delivering it to want to read the story. The most important thing about the tagline is that it needs to be high concept. It should sum up the entire plot in one quick compelling sentence."
The samples of taglines (all for movies) used by Lucy V. Hay, found in a Google search, are as follows:
"He lived the American Dream...With a vengeance." (Scarface)
"An epic of miniature proportions." (A Bug's Life)
"The Toys are back in town." (Toy Story 2)
"Whoever wins...We lose." (Alien vs. Predator)
"EARTH--take a good look. Today could be your last." (Independence Da
The longest is ten words. We're talking short and high concept.
Whatever art form they're selling (movies, TV shows, music, books), taglines are one sentence or two that describe the product. That sentence utilizes puns, clever wording, and images that the average person already knows about, at least superficially, to intrigue the individual into wanting to see the film, hear the music, or read the book.
For me, the key is using imagery most people know and understand to convey an expectation of what the book is about.
Some blogs call a tagline an elevator pitch. I guess that depends on how many floors you're going to travel in the elevator (and how slow it is). I'd say it's a one-story elevator pitch.
Whatever you call it, it's the Big Hook, the Attention Grabber. And your book needs one.
The Origin of the Term
The origin of the logline (or log line) is not the movie industry tie. Actually, according to Stanley D. Williams, it is a nautical term.
Log lines were thin ropes with knots tied in them and wound on a spool. Mariners unreeled these ropes behind them to measure their speed-- in knots--by counting how many evenly spaced knots passed through their hands as the sand in the hour-glass drained from the top to the bottom. The log line was a necessity which helped them navigate the journey and not get lost, since it would show how far the ship had gone in a certain direction and when to turn to find their destination. It was a navigation tool.
I'm not sure how the use of the nautical term got transferred to the movie industry, but according to Wikipedia, the logline came into use when the old movie studios had script vaults. In those vaults, they stored screenplays, apparently one on top of the other, in stacks. Readers supposedly "wrote a concise one line summary of what the script was about either one the cover of the script, on the spine of the script, or both." This allowed people to read the loglines without actually unstacking the scripts.
I suppose, in a sense, this was also a navigation tool.
What is a Logline?
The logline, while short, is longer than the tagline and presents a basic description of your plot in about twenty-five to thirty words. It should contain all the necessary elements for telling a good story.
That's right. And it's tough to condense 90,000 words into twenty-five. It's a two-story elevator pitch or a thirty-second time bit in real time.
And you need one of these for your novel as well.
Let's go back to the Wikipedia version. So, how did these readers consolidate a script (or a book) into this short description. A number of different authors and screenwriters have identified what needs to be in a logline.
Stanley D. Williams (story consultant, screenwriter and director) believes a good logline is a single sentence which includes five elements.
The subject of the sentence will describe (1) an imperfect but passionate and active PROTAGONIST. The verb will depict (2) the BATTLE. And the direct object will describe (3) an insurmountable ANTAGONIST who tries to stop the protagonist from reaching (4) a physical GOAL on account of (5) the STAKES, if the goal is not reached.
Christopher Lockhart (screenplay writer and film producer) writes "A logline conveys the dramatic story of a screenplay in the most abbreviated manner possible…A logline must present:
♦ Who the story is about (protagonist)
♦ What he/she strives for (goal)
♦ What stands in his way (antagonistic force)."
Author Stacey Nash sees the logline as three sentences in which you sum up the plot of your story answering these basic questions:
♦ Who is your main character?
♦ What does he/she want? What is his/her goal?
♦ Why does he/she want this (motivation)?
♦ What are the obstacles in his/her way?
♦ What makes the story unique?
Screenwriter Erik Bork defines the requirements as:
♦ A very quick sense of who the main character is
♦ The catalyst that sets the story in motion (the big Uh-Oh)
♦ The nature of the challenge the characters now face, and it must be a huge difficulty.
Cindy Carroll (screenwriter and author) recommends using one of these structures to answer the address the elements of the logline.
♦ To stop A, character B must do C, but D happens.
♦ When A happens, character B must take some action (C), but D happens.
♦ Character B does something, then when A happens they must do C, but D happens.
She gives the example of one of her own loglines, which is twenty-three words.
"When an informant turns up dead, a by-the-book undercover cop models men's underwear to uncover the killer and stop a DVD pirating ring."
Author Kimberly Killion's pitch format also works as a way to structure a logline by filling in capitalized words.
"TITLE is a GENRE about ADJESTIVE/DESCRIPTION OF A MAIN CHARACTER, who want to DEFAULT ACTION. But when CALL TO ACTION, he must STORY GOAL, which seems impossible because CENTRAL CONFLICT."
Of course, we can see the common thread in all of these. Loglines are not easy to write because every word has to count and give pertinent information to the reader or listener.
Rules of Thumb
♦ Be succinct without being sparse. The trick is to create a logline that is pithy but has substance. It must be clear that the antagonistic force is an obstacle to the major goal. It must imply that something is at stake; it must suggest that something can be lost.
♦ Don't use the main character's name.
♦ Use a descriptive adjective to give the main character depth in a word or two. Instead of describing the protagonist as "a detective", use "a cynical fifty-year-old detective" or "a young, enthusiastic detective". Using "an ex-superhero" tells more than "a superhero". Or better yet, "an alcoholic ex-superhero" conveys even more to the reader or listener.
♦ Make the genre clear in the text. If your novel is a romance, you need a hero and a heroine in the logline. Whether science fiction, comedy, mystery, etc., the logline should tell the reader what the genre is.
♦ Present a succinct description of the protagonist's main goal and place it as close to the beginning as possible.
♦ Make your main character pro-active. Show the action of the story in your choice of verbs. Even if the protagonist is reactive, that's not the same as passive.
♦ Include the stakes or a ticking time-bomb. Urgency! Show that something can be lost. I like the example used by Erik Bork in his article.
To save his reputation, a secretly gay fraternity boy must sleep with fifteen
women by the end-of-semester party.
♦ Include the setup, particularly science fiction, paranormal, or fantasy where the rules are different. More Erik Bork examples:
In a world where all children are grown in vats...
Driven to a mental breakdown by an accident at work, an aquarium
♦ Don't reveal the twist or surprise at the end. The logline (and the book) should work by itself without the "bonus" surprise at the end.
♦ Make every word count.
♦ Don't tell it, sell it.
One final suggestion from a number of screenwriters and authors: Write your Logline before you write your novel, or at least at the beginning. James Burbridge writes that the bad news is that if you can't make the logline work, it's probably because the story doesn't work.
Okay, Now I Get It!
When things were getting pretty fuzzy and definitions were overlaping and contradictory, this example brought clarity to me.
This is from the Press Kit for the movie Close Quarters.
♦ Tagline: A film about sex, betrayal, friendship, jealousy, love, hate, death, and coffee.
♦ Logline: Forced to work an extra shift, two young baristas must come to terms with their own relationship while being bombarded by the very different issues of their diverse customers. (29 words)
How about this one for the movie Jaws.
♦ Tagline: Don't go in the water!
♦ Logline: A sheriff struggles to protect his beach community after a grisly shark attack, but greed rules the Chamber of Commerce. (21 words)
Another good example is the movie Alien. The tagline comes up often as an example, but often the tagline is called the logline.
♦ Tagline: In space, no one can hear you scream.
♦ Logline: After responding to a distress signal, a space crew is forced to confront a deadly alien who stows aboard their ship, leaving one mem
This article by R. Ann Siracusa was originally published on the RB4U Blog Site on May 10, 2013
We all know the cliche "back to the salt mines" means it's time to return to school, work or something unpleasant (like finishing that last scene that's been so hard to write), by implying the speaker is a slave to the salt mines.
Yet the Wieliczka Salt Mine in southern Poland was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and proclaimed by Poland as a national monument in 1994.
A salt mine?
Table salt is a commodity we take for granted these days. You can get it anywhere for a reasonable price, but that wasn't always true. In ancient times, it was quite precious, and until the industrial revolution, it was hard to come by. Roman soldiers were paid in salt, and as early as Roman times, being sent to work in the salt mine was tantamount to being sent into slavery with a very limited life expectancy.
So why would a salt mine end up on the list of World Heritage sites?
The Wieliczka Salt Mine?
Four hundred and forty-three feet beneath the City of Wieliczka (population 20,000, in the metropolitan area of Karków, Poland), the Wieliczka Salt Mine has continuously extracted table salt from the time it was constructed in the 12th century by a local duke. The salt mine was first mentioned in 1044 and didn't cease operations until 1992 (some sources say 1996 and 2007), due to heaving flooding. Regardless, it's one of the oldest and longest operating salt mines in existence and still produces brine.
From the outside, the mine appears exceptionally well kept but ordinary, and on the interior, you will find the expected look and equipment of a salt mine.
Interesting, yes. But World Heritage Site quality? I don't know.
This Ain't Your Ordinary Salt Mine
The salt mine itself, while interesting and now housing a museum of the history of the salt mining industry, isn't what attracts over a million visitors a year. Over the centuries, tens of generations of miners not only extracted salt, but they also left behind them a record of their time there in awesome sculptures and architecture, all made of salt.
The tourists who visit have to descend 378 wooden steps to enter an unexpected and amazing world where they can take a 2 kilometer tour (some sources say 2 miles and 3.5 kilometers) of the mine corridors, sixteen lakes, twenty chapels (including the Cathedral), and incredible art works. (There is an elevator to go up to the surface which rises at twelve feet per second.)
These works of art and architecture weren't created by great artists under commission to some King, but by the workers themselves, from the middle ages to the present, by hacking rock from the walls and sculpting statues and reliefs in the salt rock which resembles unpolished granite.
These chapels were places where the miners could capture a few moments of retreat to worship during their labors. There are twenty chapels, the largest and most magnificent, the Cathedral.
The Cathedral is astounding in terms of sheer size and the way in which the miners breathed their Catholic spirit into the cathedral and art works.
It took 68 years to complete.
Photo by Michal Osmenda
Photo by teachandlearn on Flickr
Photo by Adam Kumiszcza on Wikimedia Commons
Many of the sculpted scenes represent well-known stories from the Bible. Others represent other historical events and also the imagination of the miners. One wall is dedicated to the 14th century warrior Casimir the Great.
The origins of the mine are depicted in the Janowice Chamber. In medieval times, the Hungarian Princess Kinga, married Polish Prince Boleslaus the Chaste.
When Mongols invaded Poland, Kinga went to her father asking that he help the Poles. In response, he gave her the sale mine of Maramaros, in Transylvania, where she threw her ring into the shaft. (No references explained why she did that.) The story goes the ring was found in the first block of white sand dug in Wieliczka, which ultimately provided a third of the income to the Polish crown. Below a knight is returning the ring to Kinga.
The amazing salt chandeliers are not simply sculpted from salt, but by using a process which requires the salt rock to be dissolved. Then the impurities are extracted, and solution dried to achieve a glass-like finish. Even the floor, which looks like tiles, is made of salt.
Photo by dgies on Flickr Photo by Matthew.kowal on Wikimedia Commons
In the Spalone Chamber there are figures of the men who worked as the mine's "Pentinents". Before there was proper ventilation, these men worked were responsible for burning off the methane that accumulated in the ceilings of the mine's chambers. They dressed in wet clothing and crawled along the floor of the mine with a long pole hold a lit torch at the end. It was a dangerous task and those workers were rewarded with extra bags of salt, which was an extremely valuable commodity in the Middle Ages.
Visitors who commented on the many articles and blogs, tag the Wieliczka Salt Mine as a "don't miss" travel destination. Now I see why it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I can't wait to visit.
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BODY PAINTING AS A FINE ART
This article by Ann Siracusa was originally published on the Romance Books 4 Us Blog, April 10, 2013
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me some pictures circulating on the internet showing body painting by nineteen-year-old Japanese artist student Chooo-San. She uses acrylic paint to transform herself into a mutant or cyborg. I was so intrigued that I had to find out more.
THE ORIGINS OF BODY ART
Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of the human body with painting, tattoos, piercings, branding, or scalpelling. Body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and last for a day or two. Mehndi henna or temp tattoo and glitter tattoos may last a couple of weeks.
Tens of thousands of years ago, our early human ancestors used painting materials for cave paintings. Many scholars believe that before interior cave-decoration became a prehistoric fad, early humans used the same materials for painting their own bodies, primarily as camouflage for hunting and to defend themselves from predators. They certainly had many examples in nature to learn from.
Can you see the owl?
Whenever the practice began, body and face painting developed into decorating in shapes, patterns, and colors for hunting, religious, ritual, and military purposes--sometimes the painting was used to scare the enemy--and for artistic expression. Body painting, along with other rites, represents important changes in one's life, such as puberty, marriage, birth, and so on, and has been a part of most tribal cultures since ancient times. The art of transforming the human being for various purposes with make-up and masks seems inherent in all cultures.
Natural pigments, tree barks, plants, minerals, and clays were used; the colors and types of pigments depended on what was available in the immediate area. Different patterns, shapes, and colors have a different significance depending on the culture. Body painting became a way of expressing one's culture and identity.
According to fashionencyclopedia.com, body painting was traditionally used in many societies to signify a person's social status and/or religious beliefs. A temporary decoration, body paint lasted only a few days. In some cultures, both men and women painted their bodies only for important social occasions, while in others, people wore body paint every day as a uniform to show their social status.
TRIBAL BODY AND FACE PAINTINGNearly all tribal cultures practiced some form of body art. The practice still survives in its ancient forms among indigenous peoples in many countries. While it is done primarily for ceremonial purposes (and tourism), it also serves to preserve elements of the culture and identity in an expanding world. Art makes us different.
Julius Caesar wrote that the Britanni warriors or Picts (which means painted ones in Latin) colored their bodies blue when going into battle.
The Picts, Scotland Iowa Indian Warrior Maori Warrior, New Zealand
History teaches us that the American Indians painted their faces, particularly when preparing for war, and movies like Braveheart show other cultures that painted their faces and bodies.
Contemporary Body Painting
Most of us are familiar with face painting in its contemporary forms. We see the images in ads, on TV and many other places, particularly related to the entertainment business.
Clowns Mimes Sports Fans
Halloween costumes Military camouflage Cosmetics
And, ladies, your skin care and cosmetics represent a 160 billion-dollar-per-year industry. That's some serious face painting, wouldn't you say? To quote the Economist Magazine, an industry driven by sexual instinct will always thrive.
Even today in India and Morocco, brides traditionally have their hands and feet painted in henna, and Indian women. Hindu women and men wear their marking and symbols on their foreheads. The small red dot, worm by women, is called bindi and represents the social status of a married woman.
Body Painting As A Form Of Fine Art
Body painting doesn't always involve painting large pieces of a nude body; the art form also includes smaller pieces on otherwise clothed bodies. The model may be a "stand alone" canvas for the artist, or may be part of a more complex juxtaposition of model (or models) and background. Perhaps that is why body painting is considered, by some, as one of the performing arts.
Body painting as a form of artistic expression experienced a resurgence in the 1960's and 1970's, in part due to the relaxation of the social mores regarding nudity and the freedom movements of those generations.
Some thirty years earlier, in 1933 at the World's Fair in Chicago, Max Factor Sr. and his model, Sally Rand, were arrested when he painted her body with new cosmetics developed for the movies. By the 1960's artists needed attention and were looking for something shocking and provoking to send their message.
Since the 1980's, body painting has become widely accepted in the US. There are publications dedicated to it, festivals, and competitions around the world. The first art gallery dedicated to body painting as a fine art opened in 2006 in New Orleans.
But still today, there is an ongoing debate whether or not body paints is a form of Fine Art. You'll have to make up your own mind.
Work of Artist Chooo-san
Work of Artist Craig Tracy
Work of WArtist Gesine Marwedel
Artist Yomico Moreno (I believe these are tattoos, not body painting)
Work of Artist Bella Volen
Work of Artist Emma Hack
Work of Some Others By Unnamed Artists (unnamed in the articles)
I'd love to hear your opinion of this. Please leave a comment.
This blog by R. Ann Siracusa was originally published on Mary 27, 2013 on Leslie Ann Sartor's blogsite:
My Story My Way http://www.anindieadventure.blogspot.com/
You've done character profiles for your hero, heroine, antagonist, and secondary characters. You've plotted your novel. You're ready to go. But wait! Have you overlooked that mystery character?
Your setting, of course.
When I e-mailed Leslie Ann about guest blogging, I said I'd write about St. Petersburg, the setting for my most recent release All For Spilled Blood. "Great," she replied. "Setting is another character."
Absolutely! That stirred the juices, and I decided to blog on using your setting as a character in your novel.
SETTING OF THE NOVEL
Without place, the characters are just there without reason to act or care. Setting is not only the time, location, and circumstance of where the story takes place, but the social milieu which shapes values and the characters. Nathan Bransford sees three important traits in a novel:
● "Change Underway: The best settings are not static, unchanging places that have no impact on the characters' lives. Instead in the best worlds there is a plot inherent to the setting itself: a place in turmoil, or a place that is resisting change but there are tensions roiling the calm, or the sense of an era passing in favor of a new generation.
● "Personality and Values: A great setting has its own value system. Certain traits are ascendant, whether it's valor and honor, justice and order, every man for himself, or it could even be a place where normal values and perspectives have become skewed or inverted…There's a personality outlook that throws us off kilter and makes us imagine how we'd react if we were placed in that world."
● "Unfamiliarity: Most importantly, a great setting shows us something we've never seen before. Either it's a place that most readers might be unfamiliar with and have never traveled to, or it shows us a place that we are all-too-familiar with, but with a new, fresh perspective that makes us look again."
The setting may establish the mood of the novel, as well as serve as a character that helps the protagonist achieve his or her goals, or as the antagonist working against them [e.g. a novel where the protagonist's goal in climbing Mt. Everest and the setting does everything it can to prevent that with wind, falling rocks, breaking ropes, and so on].
So, your setting is definitely a character in your novel. Whether it's a primary or secondary character depends on the kind of novel and what the author wants. But choosing the correct setting is just as important as the other components of the novel. It can assist the reader to experience the drama and feel the moods and emotions of each particular scene, as well as the novel as a whole.
Sometimes settings are such that the story couldn't take place anywhere else because of the mood, physical features, social values and customs. Think about what makes your setting unique.
Author Susan Meissner writes:
"We are wired to assign value to places. That's why home is so sweet, Yosemite is so beautiful, Paris is so romantic and a moonlit beech is so calming. It's also why dark houses scare us, crumbling cliffs intimidate us, and foggy moors depress us. Places communicate something to us. A spider doesn't care if it makes a web in a dark, musty cellar or under a chair in an opulent ballroom. But we care!"
You can set a novel in a place you've never been and pull it off, but having been there is better. Physical presence gives you a sense of how the location feels, tastes, and smells. You hear the background sounds, feel the rhythm and pace. These things are often hard to research. Even if you've never been to the location where your novel is set, thinks about those characteristics of place.
While setting may not be the same as mood and atmosphere, the reader's emotional response to the time and place of the setting, each setting has its own unique mood and atmosphere. And the more familiar you are with the sense of place, the more you can use it to assist or hinder your protagonist, which will add depth to your novel.
Doing research in advance allows the author to pull those in as details that affect and further plot without stopping in the middle to look things up, or going back later to add them…and then forgetting to do that.
A few things to look at include: Weather and climate, slang and language, particularly if the setting is foreign, the appearance at different times of day and in different seasons. You may even want to find out of the location is on daylight savings time…and that's not just for the US settings. What places in the setting are particularly scary/dangerous and peaceful/safe, map and satellite pictures, topography and physical characteristics.
Susan Meissner also suggests, as part of your research, that you look at the location's newspaper on line and check out "real estate ads, the society page, obituaries, and the restaurant guide." You can get a good sense of what the city or town is like. Personally, I'd throw in reading the police blotter or equivalent, too.
SETTING OF EACH SCENE
I was intrigued by Author MaryLu Tyndall's list of six ways the setting can help or hinder the protagonist in achieving his/her goals in general and in a scene. It's worth the time to read her article. (See Resources) Here's a recap of her points.
● The setting as a friend / a comfortable, relaxing place where protagonist can reflect, or a safe place to hide from enemies.
● The setting as an antagonist / introduce conflict, trouble, thwarts protagonist's plans.
● The setting as a mentor / a place to learn or make discoveries, a place to prepare to take something on.
● The setting as a shadow for protagonist / a shadow reflects the deepest flaws of the character / a setting that opens the character's eyes to his/her own flaws.
● The setting as a model of what the protagonist wants to be/ a setting that fosters qualitites to which the protagonist aspires.
● The setting as an example/ a setting that either assists or hinders the character in that particular scene.
There are important roles of the setting of each scene.
ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
St. Petersburg is a beautiful city founded by Tzar Peter the Great in 1703. Although created to be as much like other contemporary European cities as possible, nothing is really old by European standards, and the buildings themselves take on some of the special expansive qualities typical of Russian architecture.
I didn't know, when I went there in 2004, that St. Peterburg (previously Leningrad after 1917) is called the Venice of the North. It was originally constructed on ten islands on the north side of the Neva river delta. Today the city spreads over more than forty islands and has 342 public bridges of all sizes, types, and designs. It’s impossible to walk more than a few hundred meters without crossing a bridge. The canals and the morning fog give the city a very romantic and picturesque mood, as do the white nights when the sun goes down at 1 am and the rest of the night is like twilight until the sun comes up at about 3:30 am.
The Tsar expected residents of the city to move around during the summer months by boat on the canals. In the winter, when the canals are frozen, they were expected to use the canals with sleds. I guess that didn’t work out. After Peter’s death, they started building bridges. The first permanent bridge of bricks and stone across the main branch of the Neva was constructed in 1850.
The Russian people are integral to St. Petersburg as a setting. I found them friendly, helpful, and often outgoing…but serious. Yes, they do laugh and smile, and they know how to have a good time, but in the shopping center or along the streets, most of them seemed to go about their business with unsmiling intense expressions, as though they take life very seriously. The older ones rarely step out of the box of their responsibility, seemingly conditioning from prior times.
If you read All For Spilled Blood, you will see how I use the setting as a character in the novel.
NEWS FLASH – ITEM OFF BUCKLIST
Luciano and I just got back a cruise to Mexico with our daughter-in-law's parents. We had a great time, and my adventure this trip was ziplining south of Puerto Vallarta. Great fun!
WHAT COULD BE MORE RUSSIAN THAN BORSCHT?
This blog by R. Ann Siracusa was first published on Romance Books 4 Us website March 10, 2013
One of the interesting things about traveling (and setting my books in exotic foreign lands) is learning about, and eating, the typical cuisine. When you travel, always try eating something new. But be smart about it. Check the International Health Organization pointers about foods in the country you're traveling in.
Because my latest release, All For Spilled Blood, is set in St. Petersburg, Russia, I'm blogging about traditional Russian cuisine.
RUSSIA IS HUGE
Being such a large country, traditional Russian foods vary from one region to another. Many dishes are similar but may not taste the same because of differences in preparation and what's available locally. This is no different than any place else.
The weather and the need for energy and warmth result in Russian foods being heavy on carbohydrates and fat. A basic meal includes potatoes, bread, eggs, meat, and butter. The most common fresh vegetables and fruits include cabbage, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, berries and apples.
I don't know if it's typical, but every meal I was served in Russia included sliced tomatoes, even breakfast.
SOME TRADITIONAL RUSSIAN FOODS
In Russia most meat dishes use beef, poultry, pork, game and wild animals. Meats are usually eaten with noodles, potatoes, or vegetables.
● Blinis – Thin buckwheat pancakes made with buckwheat flour. In times past, they were placed on window sills for pilgrims and the poor. Some sources say they are now more of a holiday treat, but others claim this is the mainstay of the Russian breakfast.
● Shashlik – A main dish of lamb (but also chicken, pork or beef) in vinegar and water, then grilled on a skewer like a kebab. It's just the meat, but highly seasoned. A popular food sold by street vendors and essential for an outdoor bar-b-q (traditionally cooked by men).
● Pelmeni - A pastry dumpling filled with meat balls, served alone, with butter and sour cream, or in broth.
● And, of course, the variety of breads, desserts and pastries is infinite. Russians are known for cheesecakes, spice cakes, and kulebyakas, savory pies usually prepared with salmon and chopped eggs. The Russian desserts and sweets are outstanding, such as the hazelnut Pavlova below.
WHAT COULD BE MORE RUSSIAN THAN BORSCHT?
Borscht [also spelled borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, and borshch] is a soup of Ukrainian origin made of beetroot as the main ingredient. Although I can’t say that beets are my favorite veggie, I had some borscht in Russia and enjoyed it a lot.
This deep reddish soup is popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. While most recipes call for beetroot, some may use tomatoes as the main ingredient and the beets as secondary. And there are other non-beet varieties, such tomatoes paste (orange borscht) and green borscht called sorrel soup. Cold borscht is served in the summer.
Typical Red Borscht Cold Summer Borscht
Russian Borscht recipe
Irene Verigin writes, “From the first sight, it looks like simple mix of beets and cabbage, but in reality borscht was a face of Soviet cuisine. The borscht recipe came from Ukraine, but nowadays every nation would argue about that. There are so many versions of borscht - with mushrooms, with fish, with pickles etc.”
The following is Irene’s recipe.
3/1/2 cup canned tomatoes
5 or 6 medium-sized potatoes cut in halves
1 large carrot cut fine
1 small peeled beet
Salt to taste
1 small onion chopped
4 cup shredded cabbage
3/4 cup sweet cream
½ cup fresh green pepper chopped
2 tbs. fresh or dried dill
1 celery chopped fine
2/1/2 qts. water
1/1/2 cup diced potatoes
• Put water to boil in large kettle. Add 1/2 c. canned tomatoes.
• When water is boiling, drop in 5 or 6 medium-sized potatoes, chopped carrot and the beet.
• While this is cooking, add 3 tbs butter in frying pan. When melted, add chopped onion, cook tender but do not brown.
• Add 3c. canned tomatoes and let simmer with onion and butter until a thick sauce. Set to back of stove.
• Into a separate frying pan put 2-3 tbs. butter to melt. Add 2c. shredded cabbage and fry. Cook tender but do not brown.
• Shred another 2c. to add later to the borstch.
• When potatoes are tender remove them to a bowl. Add 2tbs. butter, mash well, then add 3/4c. sweet cream and mix well and set aside.
• Add 1/1/2c. diced potatoes to the stock and the remainder of the shredded cabbage.
• When diced potatoes are tender, add the onion and tomato sauce, then add the cooked cabbage, and the potato-cream mixture.
• Add 3 tbs. butter to the borsch. Stir well. Add fresh chopped fine green pepper. Add 3tbs fresh or dried dill. The more fresh dill the better the flavor.
• Remove beet, one hour later after borsch is ready. Borsch is ready to serve.
• Serve hot. Serve with chopped garlic in your soup bowl and a fresh piece of bread and butter...Yummy, enjoy...”
Source: Irene Verigin, Doukhobor Cookbook
I haven’t tried this recipe—my husband does all the cooking, now—so let me know if you like it.
The process for Career Planning is similar to planning for anything else, so I decided to apply my thirty-seven years of professional land use planning to develop prototype career plan for authors.
The process require some time and soul-searching, and you really should write it down. There's all kinds of research to support the effectiveness of putting something on paper. It creates a higher level of commitment. Even if you don't prepare a written plan, give serious thought to the contents. There may be some aspects of your career you haven't considered.
The following is a very condensed version of a class I give. If, after reading this, if you want the full information and worksheets, contact me.
WHY PREPARE A CAREER PLAN?
Every writer/author should prepare a career plan because it helps you to clarify what you want out of writing and to make informed choices about your career.
● You need to know where you're going in order to get there.
● Writing is either a hobby or a business. Both are okay, but you should know what it is to you.
● You need to know what you’re striving for in order to make choices.
● Writing takes commitment and requires sacrifices; it requires large investments of time, emotions, money, energy, and self-esteem. You need to know how much you are willing to invest.
● A career plan is a guide for decision-making.
● You need goals and measurable action steps to measure your progress.
Your career plan is for you―you never have to show it to anyone. It will change over time. Put your plan in writing and keep it where you can see it. It will help you keep focused. When preparing your plan:
● Be brutally honest with yourself.
● Tap your emotions.
● Visualize it.
● Be specific
● Be realistic. You may win the first contest you enter, or you may sell the first thing you write and send out, but you may not. Most of us don’t. Tailor your plan to what it real.
● Keep it simple.
● Reevaluate and revise at least once a year. Sometimes more often.
There are three basic steps to any kind of planning. Ask yourself these three questions.
● Where am I now? –Assessment of the current circumstances;
● Where do I want to go? – Statement of Vision and goals;
● How do I get there? – Action plan with specific actions and measurable milestones in a time frame.
STEP 1 - ASSESS YOUR CURRENT STATUS
Assess where you are in terms of skill development, what you need to learn, experience, etc. The questions that are pertinent are related to where you are in your career. Be brutally honest with yourself.
● Personal Motivation - What motivates you? How long have you been writing seriously? Why do you write?
● Commitment - What is your personal commitment? Are you willing to give up other parts of your life to write? How many classes have you taken? How many pitches have you made?
● Productivity - How productive are you? Do you constantly increase the number of words you can write?
● Professional Activity - Are you a member of a critique group or writing organization such as RWA? Mystery Writers of America? Are you active? Do you attend conferences?
● Presence on the Web – What is your presence on the web? What social media sites do you belong to and are you active?
● Roadblocks - Write six things you perceive as keeping you from achieving your goals as a writer.
● Strengths – What are you best writing skills?
● Weaknesses – What are the areas in which you need improvement to your writing skills?
After working through these assessments, write down where you believe you are in your career and what areas you need to strengthen.
STEP 2 – WRITE YOUR VISION AND GOALS
All of us have general goals, but the more realistic and specific they are, the more likely you are to achieve them. Think about these things and do some serious soul-searching.
1. Career Purpose Statement
● What is your career purpose(your inspiration for writing)? - What is it you want to tell the reader and/or contribute to society through your writing?
● What is your life purpose? - (Heavy stuff, right?) Why do you believe you are on the earth? If possible, try to integrate career purpose and life purpose. It's okay if you can't deal with this, but give it a try and at least give it some serious thought.
● What do you believe? What is important to you? – What are your hot buttons in real life? What are you passionate about? What moves you and makes you angry, or cry, or excited?
● What do you like to read? - What are the underlying themes you like to read about? What draws you to them? Write down five themes/hooks that never fail to move you.
● What do you like to write about? - Write down five topics or themes that show up regularly in your own work. Write three verbs (e.g. inspire, challenge, entertain, frighten, etc.) that best describe the impact you want to have on your readers.
●Who is your target audience(s)? Identify your target audience as specifically as you can. (Such as children in high school getting ready for college, or Women who were married a long time and then lost their spouse to death or divorce, etc.).
Now write your Career Purpose Statement. It will read something like the following examples: 1) To entertain readers with a much-needed escape when life get tough, or 2) to inspire women to follow their dreams; or 3) To give hope to young people about their futures.
2. Ultimate Career Goal
● Write down your initial idea for an ultimate career goal or career vision.
● Now, make the statement more specific and note tangible end results.
● Add the emotion and incorporate how you will feel when you read the statement.
● Add visualization. When you achieve this career vision, how will it impact you?
3. Author Brand
Your Author Brand is not only a tag line or a catchy slogan; it is your reputation, your voice, what your write about, your public image, what makes your work unique from everyone else’s, everything about you. It show in a few words what someone can expect from your writing.
4. Professional Image
● Personal Physical Appearance - How you look, dress, and your overall physical “tone”
● Personal Physical Manner - The manifestation of how you feel about yourself
● Personal Speech - How you speak. What you say and how you say it
● Written Words - What you write, on paper, in novels, in interviews, e-mails, blogs
● Non-Personal Physical Appearance - The appearance and impression of your website, your stationery, your business cards, your advertising, and all things that represent you and your product
STEP 3 – PREPARE AN ACTION PLAN
So, now you know what you want your ultimate career to look like. This part of the plan is identifying the steps you must take to achieve your goal.
Remember, the key to an action plan is setting specific realistic goals that are measurable within a specific time period and that you have control over.
If you’ve finished several novels but never sent any of them out, you are in a different place than an author who has won several contests, had several full manuscripts requested, and has rewritten a novel to correct the flaws an editor or agent has pointed out. Authors who just sold their first book are in a different place than authors with several books published.
Start with where you are now, and eat the elephant one bite at a time. However, each action step should move you in the direction of your ultimate goal and should build the author brand. Be honest with yourself. The action plan you develop must be feasible and must take into consideration your constraints in targeting your goals.
1. Five year goals.
● Write your realistic five-year goals.
● Prioritize your five-year goals - Your five year goals will be fairly general.
● List the action steps that must be taken to achieve those goals. – Your action steps will be about as general as your goals.
2. One year goals
Now, go to your one year goals, and keeping in mind where you want to be in five years, prepare goals for the first year.
● Write your realistic one-year goals – Be specific and detailed here.
● Prioritize your one-year goals – Ask yourself, “If I could do only one thing on this list during the year, what does it have to be?” Then look at what's left and go through the same process. This will give you a list of what is most important.
This doesn't mean you work on goals one at a time. All of them are important, but sometimes they have to occur sequentially. The priority list is a tool to help you manage your resources and career. If something comes up that affects available time, money resources, etc. (such as an illness), you know where to cut…from the bottom of the list. If your available time is cut in half, for RWASD Blog February 28
you drop the last goal or do less work on it than the higher priorities.
● Write realistic action steps (what do you have to do) to achieve your one year goals – Action steps must be specific, have a time frame, and a measure of success…and they must be something you can do yourself.
● Monitor your action plan as adjust as necessary – At least every four to six months do an update of the action plan and measure your progress.
REMEMBER THE PURPOSE OF THE PLAN
Planning is all about making informed decisions. Along any career path, there are choices and opportunities. When any professional is faced with such decisions, it's better to have a good grasp on where you're going and how the decision will move you in the direction of your goals. A career plan is intended to be flexible and updated frequently. It's only for you, and it's a valuable tool.
This blog was posted on Romance Books 4 Us blogsite on January 10, 2013, but it's only up for a day there, so I am posting it here, also…with more photos.
What could be more romantic than wedding gowns?
Last week the heroine in the novel I'm finishing had to buy a wedding dress in Gaborone, Bostwana, Africa. Because my 2008 tour in Botswana didn't include shopping at bridal boutiques, it was off to the Internet to do research.
All I needed was one picture and a word or two of description, but as with most research, I found a lot of interesting material that should never show up in a novel. So here it is in a blog instead.
The first thing I noticed, when I searched "bridal wear, Gaborone, Botswana", were some unusual names for bridal shops. My heroine eliminated visits to these three boutiques right off the bat.
● Discount Outfitters
● Mad Dog Weddings and Bridal Wear
Color the Bride in White
In western cultures, we tend to use white or off white for bridal gowns, and use the symbolic colors for bridesmaids' dresses, flowers, and decorations. But this isn't necessarily true for other cultures, and many others use more colorful dresses as bridal attire.
According to The Bride's Book of Etiquette, white has been the color symbolizing celebration since Roman times. In the Victorian era, the white/off-white gown symbolized wealth, since it meant that the bride could afford a dress which would be worn only once or twice before it was soiled. That was considered frivolous. Most wedding attire was practical; embellished for the wedding, and then altered for special events or even everyday use.
Veils were originally intended to protect the bride from evil, jealous spirits and stares from outsiders, and they varied in color. Red was worn to confuse the devil. Red also symbolized defiance. Blue symbolized consistency. Greek and Roman brides often wore yellow, the classic color of Hymen, the god of marriage. Early Christian brides wore white, symbolizing celebration, youth and purity.
Whether wedding colors are chosen for bridesmaids' dresses and decorations, or for the bride and groom's attire, colors have symbolic meanings when it comes to weddings. However, nearly every article I read gave a different interpretation of the symbolism in general and as the color relates to weddings. Most admitted that wedding colors are selected for mood and effect and not symbolic meaning.
● White The color of innocence, purity, youth
● Ivory The color of elegance and nostalgia
● Red The color of love, romance, drama
● Black The color of authority, rebellion, sophistication
● Pink The color of happiness, youth, femininity, harmony, fidelity
● Hot pink The color of passion, power, and glamor
● Gold The color of wealth, wholesomeness, and tradition
● Silver The color of wealth and tradition
● Purple The color of nobility, luxury, inspiration, and spirituality
● Blue The color of tranquility, truthfulness, faithfulness
● Green The color of nature, fertility, growth, rebirth
According to the Unique Wedding Dresses website, it was the pale blue wedding dress that denoted purity (not white) until Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840. That was when white became the symbol of a bride's purity, and it has been used in western tradition ever since.
But since my heroine was in Botswana, I started with African attire. While there are plenty of traditional white gowns to choose from, African wedding dresses, more often than not, boast deep rich colors in unique patterns alongside the white. Grooms often wear suits which match the color and design. Colors in African bridal attire include:
● Mustard Yellow
● Royal Blue
● Royal Purple
● Emerald Green
African wedding dresses generally have straight, slightly A-line, or trumpet skirts, short or floor-length. The most traditional include a wrap skirt and separate top, sometimes showing off a section of midriff, sometimes not. They are not always embellished but may have contrasting colors.
While not everyone goes for yellow, Africans tend to like colorful garb for this event.
Indian weddings are grand and colorful events that last for several days, sometimes even a week or more. Like many countries where there is cultural and religious diversity, the wedding traditions also vary. Red has always been a favorite color in India, symbolizing an auspicious event (and according to another source, meaning purity). Today styles and colors are more varied than ever.
A Muslin marriage weaves together two families, two souls, and two destinies. It is a big and auspicious occasion. Different Muslin cultures have different traditions, and their wedding customs and rituals vary as well. But they follow the required traditions of how women dress.
In Russia, the traditional color of wedding dresses is blue. Royalty married in silver, and ladies wore their best attire to wed in. Today, the choices in blue are endless, from pastel to royal to turquoise.
The old traditional and the modern.
In Japan, a wedding may be Shinto, Christian, Buddhist, or non-religious styles. Couples choose the style of the ceremony, and it doesn't have to match with one's religion.
In Japan, the Shinto style wedding the bride's garment is the white kimono called a shiromuku. Grooms wear a black formal kimono called a montsuki, a kimono jacket (haori), and kimono pants (hakama).
It's not unusual that only family members and close relatives attend Shinto-style ceremonies. There are neither bridesmaids nor a best man.
Red means good luck and happiness in China, so it's not surprising that even among the modern wedding dresses red prevails. Particularly, since white means death in the Chinese culture. But there are contemporary brides who wear white.
The bride's headdress was of particular significance in the traditional wedding. Called a phoenix crown, it is decorated with red reathers and pearls. A red veil hid the bride's face from the groom until it was removed on the wedding night.
Wedding garb from other countries and cultures
Eskimo Spain Mexico
The black wedding dress, traditional in Spain, symbolizes faithfulness until death.
Vietnam Traditional Ireland Thailand
Maori - New zealand
Whether contemporary or traditional, nothing makes a bride immune to bad taste. Here are a couple of the runners up for the worst.
And the winner is:↓
I had to share this.
ATTENTION: IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM SANTA CLAUS
"I'm writing this note to inform you
that taxes have taken away
the things that I found most essential:
I'm now making my rounds on a donkey,
he's tired and crippled and slow,
So if you don't see me on Christmas
I'm out on my ass in the snow.
Since the Great Wall of China plays both physical and metaphorical roles in my recently released novel Destruction Of The Great Wall (third novel in the romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinaire), I want to share some information about this historic monument.
Actually, monument isn't the correct word for the Great Wall of China. It isn't a single unbroken wall that stretches 5,500 miles.across northern China, but segments of walls built by different rulers at different period of time in Chinese history. As with anything that's old and lasts for a long time, there are myths about the great wall.
In my novel, the heroine, Harriet, is the catalyst that helps destroy the great wall blocking the hero's emotions and part of his memory. She also does some physical damage to the wall with an assault rifle.
There is a lot of information about how the rumor got started going as bar back as Willian Stukeley in 1754 to Halliburton's 1938 Second Book of Marvels.
The Legend of Meng Jiangnü
This legend of love and devotion tells of a young man of the Qin Dynasty named Liang Fanqi who was sent by the emperor to work on construction of the wall. He escaped, ran, and his in a private garden. There he met the property owner's daughter, Meng Jiangnü. They fell in love and married (apparently never leaving Meng's house).
Eventually, the Emperor's guard found Lian Fanqui, captured him, and send him back to work on the construction. The young bride Meng Jiangnu waited day after day for him to return until winter came. Resigned, she made some warm clothes to take to her husband. When she arrived at the site and couldn't find him, she was told he had died and his body was built into the wall.
Meng Jiangnu wept day and night by the wall. Deeply moved by her bitter tears and deep love, a 400 kilometer section of the Great Wall collapsed, exposing the bones and bodies of the many men who had died building the wall. Meng Jiangnü cut her fingers and dripped blood on the dead bodies until her blood started flowing when she passed over the body of her husband. Then she buried him and drowned herself.
Another version has the Emperor coming to see the damage her tears did to the wall, and when he saw Meng Jiangnü, he wanted to marry her. Then she drowns herself.
Not exactly a Cinderella story.
Operas and plays are based on this legend throughout China. There are many temples built in her memory, including the one at Shanhai Pass, which is still in good condition.
"Metal Soup" Great Wall
This story tells of the construction of the Huanghuacheng section of the wall on the outskirts of Beijing. The name means Yellow Flower Fortress because in the summer these hills are covered with yellow flowers.During the Ming Dynasty, a general named Cai Kai was ordered by the emperor to build this section of the wall. The general was meticulous regarding quality control and expenditures and it took years of hard labor to complete the section.
Happy Meeting Mouth
There is an underwater section of the Great Wall in Hebei Provence called Xinfengkou, which means Happy Meeting Mouth. (What that means, I'm not sure). This legend tells of a young man taken away to work on the Great Wall When winter came and he failed to return, his father went to the site to look for him.
Are we beginning to see a pattern here?
They ran into each other by chance at Songting Hill, later named Xifengkou Pass. They were so happy to see each other, they laughed themselves to death and were buried at this pass.
I didn't find any happy legends about the Great Wall. Does that tell you something?
DESTRUCTION OF THE GREAT WALL
Book 3 - Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
I’m Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. At last, one of my fondest wishes has come true! Will Talbot, my favorite Super Spy and the love of my life, wants to include me in his covert mission to recover a list of double agents for the US government.
Wow! Usually, I want to know everything, and he can’t tell me anything. Now, I’ll be part of the action. I am so-o going to love this!
Not that I have a big role. I only have to pretend we’re husband and wife when he accompanies me on my China tour. The tour group members are strangers we’ll never see again, and we can spend three intimate weeks together.
I mean, how hard can that be?
Surprise, surprise! My parents show up on the tour as replacements for some cancellations. Now, we have to lie and tell them we’re married to protect Will’s cover.
And then, other problems erupt when someone tries to kill me and terrorists kidnap me and my mother to lure Will into a trap. Not to mention the damage my assault rifle does to the Great Wall . . . .
Oh, man. It wasn’t my fault. Really!
“Get down!” Will yelled over his shoulder. He fired off a six-shot burst as he dropped prone into the tall grass and out of sight. There was no other cover here—nowhere else to go.
Oo-kay, Harriet Ruby, this is no time to lose it your cool. I dove onto my stomach after him, but not before I took a heavy painful blow to the chest.
“Aii!” My body slammed into the ground hard enough to knock the wind out of me. The soft wet earth sent splatters of mud across my goggles.
With all the air whooshed out of my lungs, I couldn’t breathe and lay there gasping for oxygen. I couldn’t think.
Three projectiles whizzed past my head in rapid succession.
Ohmigod! Time to get out of here. Vision impaired, I scrambled in the direction I thought Will had gone. My elbows and knees dug into the ground, dragging my body on my stomach through the wet grass, my automatic weapon clutched in both hands in front of me.
This was no fun at all. Where was he?
My heart pounded against my ribcage. Sharp pain stabbed through me with each breath. My aching hands knotted around my rifle. Black dots cavorted in front of my eyes and everything had fuzzy edges. I sucked in a big gulp of air―along with it a small bug.
“Aah-ugh!” I tried to spit it out but already the critter fluttered its wings in my throat.
Coughing, I buried my face against my arm to muffle the sound. Before I could stop hacking, a hand grasped my ankle and pulled me into a pit behind a bunker.
“Eek!” I smashed down on top of a warm body. A nice hard, well-muscled body. One I recognized by feel and scent. “You did that on purpose.”
“Shh.” Will waited long enough for both of us to relish our position, then rolled me off onto my rear end.
I pulled away and sat up, then collapsed with my back against the dirt wall of the ditch. He studied me for a long moment―although I couldn’t see his expression through the protective gear―then pulled some sort of spy instrument out of his backpack and fiddled.
Damn these grim-faced, efficient, military types. At least today he didn’t have a razor-sharp crease in his camos. Shaking my head, I reached up to wipe the grime off my face with my sleeve. “Ow!”
Will crouched behind the bunker, peering into the tool, which now looked like a small periscope. He whipped around.
“You’ve been hit.” His tight voice conveyed alarm.
Jeez, did he need to lighten up, or what?
I threw down my automatic Spyder MR2 and sent it rattling to the ground.
“Right. And it hurts like the devil.” I stared down at the damp red stain on the front of my shirt.
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LEADERSHIP VS FOLLOWERSHIP
"Neither a follower nor subordinate be."
Not exactly Polonius' advice to his son. [Hamlet, Act I, scene 3, 75-77], but it's close to the current philosophy. In fact, no one ever advises someone to be a good follower, at least in this country. How many high school or university valedictorians have your heard who praise the virtues of followership? God forbid! We are the future leaders of yada-yada-yada. According to popular belief, it's leadership that counts. It's also a popular belief that if you're a follower, you're also a slacker. This is a good example: http://www.inspirationalarchive.com/1505/leaders-vs-followers/
● When leaders makes mistakes, they say, "I was wrong."
When followers make mistakes, they say, "It wasn't my fault."
● Leaders work harder than followers, and have more time.
Followers are always "too busy" to do what is necessary.
● Leader make and keep commitments.
Followers make promises and forget them.
I'll spare you the rest. I found this insulting to the many hard workers who get the job done. The article really made me mad and inspired me to write this blog. While I assume the article was intended to be inspirational, it couldn't be further from the truth.
You Can't Lead If No One Follows
I got myself in hot water when I was Planning Director for Fresno County over that statement. The County wanted certain policies that affected all the incorporated cities within the county, and the cities were opposed. At public hearing before the Board of Supervisors, one of the supervisors was going on and on about how the County had always been the leader in these matters.
I open my big mouth and rebutted that I'd always understood that to be a leader, someone had to be following, and in this case, no one was. Well, this man was not happy with me, but afterward he showed me a great deal more respect, even though he did refer to the Planning Department's recommendations as "sophistic."
What is Leadership?
Joseph Rost, one of the foremost thinkers in the leadership field today says leadership is “an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes.” By this, he means that the essence of leadership lies in the process of influencing; that leadership is a process — not a person, not personality traits, not the behaviors — but a process that leaders and followers engage in together.
Without influence no one can exercise leadership. The process of influencing can't occur without interactive relationships between people that make that influence possible. Influence relationships are mutual, reciprocal and multi-directional. In other words, followers influence leaders, leaders influence followers, and peers influence each other.\
An article on changingminds.org characterizes the relationship as "the leader-follower dance". It takes both parties, and it is the choice of both…a balance of give and take, influence and motivation. It achieves strategic and practical goals through professionally social means. And it's one of the highest arts of changing minds.
Are Leaders Born, Not Made?
According to psychologist Richard D. Arvey, the scientific studies his researchers conducted "support the idea that leadership can be rooted in an individual's nature and a built-in drive to lead comes in the form of genes passed on from parents." He also points out that there is no "leadership" gene. Hundred of genes interact with a great deal of complexity to produce the biological tendency to want to wear the crown.
One of the conclusions of the study is that about a third of the tendency to desire to lead is genetic. That leaves two thirds of the "drive to lead" up to the individual's environment, their upbringing, education, and life experience.
How You Follow Determines How You Will Lead
Dr. Bret L. Simmons [College of Business, University of Nevada] has some keen insights into leadership. Since most people have the opportunity to follow and to lead, even at the same time [but in different way or on different tasks], how a person follows will determine how that same person will lead. Dr. Simmons says you have to learn to be a good follower in order to be a good leader.
● "If you wait to be told, do it and then stop, or criticize and complain, and don't do what you're supposed to do, you'll never be a leader."
● "If you give 110% and do your job well but never challenge or make suggestions, you'll probably become a leader but you will lead in the same manner: i.e. not appreciate suggestions and challenges as opportunities to improve the project/project."
● "If you give 100%, do a good job, look for ways to make the project better, are willing to look for what you can do right now to help, and challenge and make suggestions for ways to improve," you will not only become a leader but a good one.
So, the bottom line is that individuals are not just followers or leaders. They can be, and probably will be, both. So learn to be a good follower so you can be a good leader, too.
Followers Choose To Follow
Leadership is not a supervisor/subordinate relationship. Sure, as a manager or supervisor you can be a good leader, but just because you're in that position and others have to do what you tell them, does not make you a leader. Ask yourself the question, "Why do people follow leaders?"
People don't choose to follow just anyone. Even on the job, where you are required to do what your supervisor says, you make the decision [consciously or unconsciously] whether or not you are going to be the follower in the Inspirational Archive article I began with, or to become a real follower. Research indicated these are the basic reasons why people will follow one individual and not another:
● Faith in the leader
● Intellectual agreement
● Buying into the vision/the solution
● Respect and mutual support
Are there leadership roles for Writers?
I'm an advocate for making informed decisions. I believe people should make choices because they know what the choices are and have weighed the consequences, and not act emotionally without thinking about it or without information.
There are roles for leadership in every profession. I'm not sure what I want writers to take away from this blog, but leadership and followership opportunities exist everywhere. We're faced with these choices daily.
Perhaps understanding the dynamic will assist in identifying those opportunities which come your way and help you make conscious choices. If nothing else, a good understanding of the "leader-follower dance" will come in handy in developing characters with leadership roles and challenges in your novels.
Whose Idea Was This?
Good Morning everyone, it’s 5:00 am here in California—but it’s really only 4:00 am. Or is it 6:00 am? We changed our clocks at 2 am November 4—only three weeks ago—but my body rhythm still hasn't adjusted to the mandated time adjustment. Does anyone else struggle with this twice-a-year phenomenon, or is it just me?
The Origins of Daylight Saving Time
I've heard that Daylight Saving Time (not "savings"), abbreviated DST, was invented by retailers to make more hours available for shopping. Other rumors tie it to school hours for children. So, I decided to find out if I had to undergo annual confusion just to satisfy people who want me to spend more money. That would be really annoying.
I've heard that Daylight Saving Time (not "savings"), abbreviated DST, was invented by retailers to make more hours available for shopping. Other rumors tie it to school hours for children.
So, I decided to find out if I had to undergo annual confusion just to satisfy people who want me to spend more money. That would be really annoying.
● It's a documented fact that some ancient civilizations practiced the concept of Daylight Saving Time. For example, Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year.
● Benjamin Franklin is credited with being the first person to propose daylight saving time (for the purpose of savings resources) in 1784 while serving as US ambassador to France.
Ben Franklin George Hudson
● Modern DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects, and he valued after-hours daylight. He presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society which generated considerable interest.
● In 1905, Englishman William Willett suggested a 20-minute scheme for moving the clock forward in April and back in September and wrote about it in a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight.” His idea sparked an interest in Robert Pearce who introduced the bill to Parliament in 1908 or 1909 (I found discrepancies in the dates). It was considered several times, but never passed. Willet died in 1915 without seeing his idea implemented.
● In 1905, Englishman William Willett suggested a 20-minute scheme for moving the clock forward in April and back in September and wrote about it in a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight.” His idea sparked an interest in Robert Pearce who introduced the bill to Parliament in 1908 or 1909 (I found discrepancies in the dates). It was considered several times, but never passed. Willet died in 1915 without seeing his idea implemented.
● In April, 1915 Austria and Germany adopted Daylight Saving Time as a wartime measure. Many other countries throughout Europe followed suit immediately. The US accepted the idea in 1918.
● After World War ended, Woodrow Wilson ceded to popular demand and repealed Daylight Saving in the U.S.
● World War II brought DST back in 1942, when FDR mandated the measure, now known as "War Time," throughout the United States. This time, it stuck, for most of the country.
● For years, different cities and states in the U.S. started and ended their daylight saving time on different dates, creating serious chaos through the country. Congress passed a law in 1966 which set a standard for Daylight Saving but didn’t mandate the actual use of the DST in those states, such as Arizona and Alaska, which did not wish to participate.
DST proved very controversial in Indiana. Part of the state adopted the program, part did not. Up until April, 2006, when a 2005 state law went into effect, you could live in part of Indiana on Daylight Saving Time but work somewhere else not on DST.
And I thought I had problems adjusting.
Color Me Money
We all know that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, right? The beginning of the Holiday shopping season, right?
Well, maybe. As it turns out, we have quite a few “black” days: in fact, nearly every day of the week. And they are all driven by economics and spending.
Actually, the term “Black Friday” is used in several contexts and dates back to the US financial crisis of 1869. That seems to be the first recorded use, and the term has been used for many events marking financial downturns.
In 1966, the term was applied (and not as a term of endearment) to the day after Thanksgiving by Philadelphia Police Department, because it officially opened the Christmas shopping season and usually brought massive traffic jams, over-crowded sidewalks, and general chaos.
It came into more general use around 1975 and by the 1980s, merchants were objecting to the negative connotation. So, being the innovative business people that we are, someone came up with the theory that this was the point in time when businesses (which traditionally operated at a loss or “in the red”) started making profits and operated “in the black.” Ta-dah! Now, merchants love it.
October 19, 1987, is when the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning of a global stock market decline, making Black Monday one of the most notorious days in recent financial history. By the end of the month, most of the major exchanges had dropped more than 20%.
Black Tuesday is the day marked as the end of the Roaring '20s and the great Wall Street Crash of 1929. A second Black Tuesday event was the Tasmanian fires in 1967.
September 16, 1992, is commonly known as the day that George Soros broke the Bank of England. He made one billion dollars profit that day, and the British government was forced to withdraw the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
Thursdays seem to be “black” for a lot of reasons, some of which include:
February 6, 1851, a day of devastating bushfires in Victoria, Australia.
The Panic of 1873 when the US bank Jay Cooke & Company declared bankruptcy, triggering a series of bank failures.
October 24, 1929, was the beginning of the Crash of 1929, followed by “Black Tuesday” on October 29, 1929.
October 14, 1943, when the Allies suffered large losses during bombing in the Second Raid on Scheweinfurt during World War II. And so on.
More Colorful Days
There are some “good” days out there, too. At least, days with different colors and some dedicated to more socially-worthy endeavors.
The day Green Monday (coined by eBay) is the second Monday of December. Also economically driven, Green Monday is the biggest online shopping days of the year with only ten more days until Christmas. Experts project consumers will spend $1 billion on holiday shopping this day alone. It also refers to a network of sustainable development practitioners in the UK, which meets on the first Monday of every month to discuss critical environmental issues such as climate change.
March 26 (Monday) is the Global Day of Epilepsy Awareness. People in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness.
Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, with the help of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia. Cassidy chose the color purple after the international color for epilepsy, lavender. The lavender flower is also often associated with solitude, which is representative of the feelings of isolation many people affected by epilepsy and seizure disorders often feel.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012, will be Pink Wednesday, the International Day against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia and Transphobia in schools and communities.
There are a number of Red days for different purposes.
National Wear Red Day is the first Friday of February (February 1, 2013) when Americans wear red to show support for women's heart health.
Red Friday, also a day for wearing red, is a way of demonstrating appreciation to our soldiers for their bravery and sacrifice. It is the same in Canada, where wearing red on Friday shows support for Canadian Troops.
Another Red Friday is related to July 31, 1925, when the British government agreed to the demands of the Miners Federation of Great Britain to provide a subsidy to the mining industry to maintain miner's wages. The newspapers called this day Red Friday.
One last Red Friday was identified as "Buy Nothing Day."
Yay! Today is November 11, Veterans Day. A day off! No Mail! We get to wear red poppies, wave flags, and go to a parade!
Many American tend to think of Veterans Day as just another day off. Or, if you don't have a holiday, it may be just another day when the mail isn't delivered.
That's too bad, because it should be a day of reflection and thanks to the multitude of armed services veterans, and their families, who have kept our country "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Don't confuse it with Memorial Day, which honors those service men and women who have died in the service of their country.
Nothing is easy when it involves the federal government.
US President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919, one year after the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and brought to a halt the actual fighting in WW I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed seven months later, on June 28, 1919.
I was surprised to read that Congress didn't officially recognize the end of WW I until June 4, 1926. It's hard for me to envision signing the treaty without acknowledging the end of the war. However, in the same resolution, Congress requested President Coolidge to proclaim November 11 as a national holiday. This is the same day celebrated in other parts of the world as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Victory in Europe Day, and other names.
An act approved in May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November a legal federal holiday, known as "Armistice Day", dedicated to the veterans of WW I and the cause of world peace.
Something as non-partisan/non-controversial as this took almost ten years. No wonder we're in trouble.
Then, on June 1, 1954, Congress approved legislation changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, a holiday which honors of the veterans of all wars, not just WW I, and celebrated on October 25. The first Veterans Day was celebrated on October 25, 1971. Confusion ensued. No one was happy.
On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law which returned Veterans Day to the original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.
Sigh of relief. This pleased just about everyone, although I used to wonder why my employer gave us a union-negotiated holiday on October 25, when the official holiday was November 11. Now I understand.
Hopefully, everything is settled for a while. And it pleases me that Veterans Day hasn't been moved from the specific date. That's not an accident. The proponents wanted to preserve the significance of November 11 and to focus attention on the purpose of Veterans Day.
A TIME FOR REFLECTION AND THANKS
As Senator Mike Johanns said,
"Nothing we can do in Congress will ever fully return the favor of those who have given so much for America. But we must do all we can to honor them. All Americans share in the responsibility of caring for our veterans who have defended our freedom.
Fewer causes are so imperative or so noble. This Veterans Day, we remember the service to our brave men and women in uniform. We thank them for their sacrifice and for their service."
THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE PAST AND TO THOSE MEN AND WOMEN WHO CONTINUE TO SERVE AND PROTECT OUR FREEDOM…AND THEIR FAMILIES.
Originally published on RB4U Blog on 11/10/2012
Since I’ve been traveling the world and have started writing travel blogs, I keep running onto places that are identified in the guidebooks and by local guides as “the eighth wonder of the world.” Recently, I watched a documentary on TV about the building of Hoover Dam, which used those very words.
So, how many "Eighth Wonders of the World" are there? And who gets to decide what qualifies as a wonder of the world?
Those questions made me curious about the origins of this terminology. When I looked around for an official list of the wonders of the world, I discovered some interesting things I didn’t know.
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The concept of listing the "Wonders of the World" dates back to the fifth century BC when Greek Historian Herodotus apparently gave the first consideration to identifying the amazing achievements in art and architecture. It wasn't until the second century BC that those ideas were put into a list by the Greek poet and writer, Antipater of Sidon. At least he is credited with having written the first guide-book to the wonders of the ancient world, constructions of antiquity generally located around the Mediterranean rim.
The original "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" were the following.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse at Alexandria Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
Statue of Zeus at Olympia Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Great Pyramid at Giza Yours truly (ancient but not a wonder)
You'll notice that most of the pictures are renderings rather than photographs. That's because six of these original wonders no longer exist. Only the great pyramid stands. The rest are gone or in ruin, like the Temple of Artemis.
The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World
The lists of wonders has increased over time, through both human ingenuity and technology and exploration. Many scholars and philosophers have either modified the original list or developed their own.
According to one source, the Medieval Wonders were established during the middle ages based on tales told by travelers. Other sources disagree. According to Wikipedia, the word medieval didn't come into use until the Enlightenment era, and the concept of a middle age did not become popular until the 16th century. Nonetheless, these remain the Wonders of the Medieval World:
Leaning Tower of Pisa Roman Coliseum
Porcelain Tower Stonehenge
Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa Hagia Sophia
The Great Wall of China
The Seven Natural Wonders of the World
Come to find out, there is also a list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Good idea, since this world is a marvelous place of dramatic natural wonders. This list was announced by CNN in 1997, but I found no reference to who developed it. While there are so many places of incredible beauty in the world, these are outstanding natural phenomemon. But there are many more.
Paricutin Volcano, Mexico The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Northern Lights Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Grand Canyon Mount Everest, Nepal
Natural harbor at Rio de Janiero, Brazil
The Seven Modern Wonders of the World
Modern times have seen incredible advances in construction and engineering technology, and some amazing structures have been built. The American Society of Civil Engineers and experts worldwide identified the following seven modern wonders. They embody the "abundance of human ingenuity, showcasing humankind's ability to dream, plan, and achieve on a colossal, mind-boggling scale."
Humankind has an amazing ability to make the impossible, possible.
● The Itaipu Dam, Brazil and Paraguay
● North Sea Protection Wall, Holland
● Golden Gate Bridge,San Francisco, USA
● Channel Tunnel between England and France
● CT Tower, Toronto, Canada
● Empire State Building, New York, USA
● Panama Canal, Panama
Will Wonders Never Cease?
Apparently not. There are innumerable lists of wonders, and none of the landmarks mentioned is designated as an "eighth wonder." Because other great works and monuments never made it to the list of seven, there are other lists, such as the Seven Industrial Wonders.
A 2001 initiative, started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation, set forth a process for selecting the Seven New Wonders from a culled-down list of two hundred monuments. The foundation claims over a million votes were cast from around the world. Can you guess the seven selected?
For more information on this foundation, go to http://www.7wonders.org/wonders/new-seven-wonders.aspx
As long as human beings continue to construct newer, larger, more marvelous projects, we will have new man-made wonders to add to the lists. The challenge, perhaps, will be preserving and protecting the still-existing historic and natural wonders of the world.
FERALIA and the ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN
Happy Halloween to all you humans, ghouls, elves, werewolves, vampires, demons, gods and goddesses, and everyone, whoever and whatever you are. You all know the meaning of Halloween, right?
"Yay! Costumes. Candy. Parties. Ghosts and things that go bump in the night."
Okay, and you all know the origins of Halloween, right?
"Yay! Samhain. Harvest festival. Food. Singing, dancing, booze, and sexual rites."
The origins of Halloween began several thousand years ago with the Celts, who believed pagan gods controlled nature and were responsible for the four seasons, a belief held by many cultures throughout the world.
The Celts honored the opposing balance and intertwining forces of nature, dark and light, night and day. Their year was divided into the Season of Light (Season on the Sun) celebrated June 1 as Beltane, and the Season of Dark (Season of the Darkness and Cold), celebrated November 1.
Samhain (pronounced "sow-in" or "sah-van") is Irish-Gaelic for "the summer's end" and represented the death of Lugh, the summer sun god. It was the third day of a Druid festival and began at dusk on October 31, marking the change of the seasons.
The festival celebrates Nature's cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios or "Seed Fall".
Chant for Samhain
A year of beauty. A year of plenty. A year of planting. A year of harvest.
A year of forests. A year of healing. A year of vision. A year of passion.
A year of rebirth. A year of rebirth. This year may we renew the earth.
Let it begin with each step we take. Let it begin with each change we make.
Let it begin with each chain we break. And let it begin every time we awake.
On Oidhche Shamha, the eve of Samhain, the villagers slaughtered cattle for the feast. They had a great bonfire and cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle into the flames. The Celts believed that this was a holy time when the boundaries between this world and the Otherword were broken and the dead could return to where they had lived. Part of the ceremony of Samhain was providing hospitality for the dead ancestors.
The earliest written record we have of Samhain comes from the Coligny Calendar, a Celtic lunar calendar inscribed on bronze tablets and discovered in eastern France about a hundred years ago. These tablets have been dated at first century BC. The language is "Gaulish", implying that this predates the Roman influences.
You knew that, right?
When the Romans conquered the Celtic territories around 43 AD, they brought their own festivals and traditions with them, and several of those merged with the celebration of Samhain. Anyone interested can find information on the Internet, but be prepared for conflicting information.
The Roman festival Feralia, commemorating deceased ancestors, is one that went with the Romans on their missions of conquest. According to some sources, Feralia occurred in late October, meshing well with Samhain.
The writings of Ovid, the famous Roman poet (Publius Ovidius Naso, born 43 bce – died 17 ce) describes the Roman year and its religious festivals his work Fasti. There, he indicates that Feralia was the last day of the Roman festival Parentalia, a nine-day event from February 13 through 21 (Julian calendar). On February 21, Roman citizens—and remember, everyone the Romans conquered had the choice of becoming a Roman citizen as long as the individual complied with Roman law—brought offerings to the tombs of their dead ancestors to honor them. Those offerings consisted of wreaths, a sprinkling of grain, salt, bread soaked in wine, and violets.
Okay, so maybe someone got the dates mixed up, or the Romans decided to celebrate the event at the same time as the Celts celebrated Samhain, since they both shared the concept of the dead returning to this world and making mischief (or worse). In the Fasti, Ovid tells of a time when the Romans, because of war, overlooked Feralia and failed to honor their ancestors. The ancestors’ spirits rose from their graves and roamed the streets howling until the rituals were performed. No wonder the festivals meshed so well.
And by the way, the word naso in Italian means nose (nose is nasus in Latin). That was his real name, but if the drawings of Ovid are anywhere near accurate, it was prophetic.
Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards and, according to some sources, the goddess of orchards and the harvest. There is a difference of opinion when the festival honoring Pomona (a celebration shared with her husband Ventumnus, the god of the turning year or seasons) was celebrated. Various sources cite August 13, August 23, and November 1.
Pomona is also considered a wood nymph, as well as a Numina, one of the guardian spirits in Roman mythology who watched over people, places, or homes. The goddess’s name comes from the word apple, which is her symbol. Samhain and the festival of Pomona fit well together in relation to celebrating the harvest. I guess we can cut them some slack regarding the actual date. We dunk for apples, perhaps in her honor.
A third Roman festival that influenced Samhain was Lemuria. As part of this ancient feast (celebrated May 9, 11, and 13 - Julian calendar), the Romans exorcised malevolent ghosts of the dead (evil spirits or lemures) from their homes. The ritual, again according to Ovid, involved the head of the household walking barefoot around house at midnight, throwing black beans over his shoulder (nine of them to be exact) and chanting, while the rest of the family clashed bronze pots. Sounds like a good Halloween party game.
All Saints Day and All Souls Day
The Roman Catholics, like many faiths, honor the dead with their own festivals. All Saints Day honors the lives of saints and martyrs and became a day of obligation in the ninth century. Later, Pope Gregory IV confirmed celebration of All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2, coinciding with the festival of Samhain.
And we've come full circle. Happy Halloween, whatever it means to you and however you celebrate it. Just watch out for flying black beans and harvest moons.
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THE ROMAN CATACOMBS
What is a more appropriate activity for Halloween than visiting a cemetery? Dark. Spooky. Dead bodies. The catacombs of Rome are that and more.
Like many people who live in cities with historic places of interest, I thought I would always live in Rome and put off going to the catacombs because I didn’t have time—and they would always be there. Right? Well, yes, the catacombs are still there, but I’m not. I had no idea my Italian husband would decide, out of the blue, to immigrate to the United States. So, I’ve visited the several of the Roman catacombs over the years, but only as a tourist. Shame on me.
Most Christians have heard or read about the catacombs in Rome, and many thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit them every year. We’ve seen them in movies. But there are many misconceptions about what they are. While experts disagree on the certain issues, there seems to be consensus that this burial practice was not invented by the Christians, and the catacombs were not the result of the persecution of Christians.
What Are The Catacombs?
The catacombs are early Christian and Jewish cemeteries, built in the first through the third centuries AD. The word catacomb comes from the Greek katà Kymbas meaning near the hollow. The Romans originally used the word to refer to a specific area around the Appian Way where there were caves for the removal of tuff blocks (consolidated volcanic ash) for building and paving.
When the Christians began excavating underground cemeteries in that area, the term was applied to those as well. It wasn’t until the ninth century AD that the definition of catacombs was extended to apply to all Christian and Jewish underground cemeteries in other locations such as Naples, Umbria, Tuscany, Sicily, and north Africa.
Why Were Cemeteries Built Underground?
There is disagreement about why the underground cemeteries were built. It appears that earliest converts to Christianity had no problem being interred in the graves of their Jewish brethren, but that practice was not destined to continue. To the Jewish, the dead body was connected with uncleanness. To the Christian it was connected with the promise of immortality. It is believed that the practice of separate interment began in Rome and the locations of other large Christian colonies. Wealthier families buried their dead in family tombs on their own property, but for others common places for the burial were needed.
In the first century AD, when the excavation of the catacombs began, Christians throughout the Roman Empire were not compelled to secrecy regarding interments. It was understood that the burial place was a religious focal point, and Roman magistrates tended to be tolerant in religious matters.
However, the Romans cremated their dead, and Roman law didn’t allow burial within the city walls, most likely for health reasons. Because of religious beliefs, the early Christians didn’t want to cremate their dead. In order to bury the deceased, the corpses had to be interred outside the urban perimeters of the city. Common burial sites were excavated in the countryside in the vicinity of the ancient Appian Way because of the tufacious soil there.
There are a variety of assumptions about why the Christians buried their dead in underground cemeteries. Some sources claim the Christians revived the earlier Etruscan practice of using underground chambers. Others claim the original catacombs were shrines to the Roman god Mithras (worshiped in Rome from about the first century BC into the third century AD). As Christianity began to challenge the pagan gods, Christians took over these shrines and used them as cemeteries. And, of course, catacomb burials could have been based on the early Jewish tradition of cave burial and placing bones of their departed in ossuaries.
All of these may be true, and they are not mutually exclusive.
How Were They Built?
Regardless of why the practice started, the early Christians used a preexisting method for excavation. Remember, there were already caves nearby where tuff blocks where extracted. They merely applied the same technique.
By the second century AD, the first large scale catacombs were being excavated, since the tufacious soil is easily removed but solid eno
COLUMBUS DAY BLOG
By R. Ann Siracusa
Today, October 8, we're celebrating Columbus Day (although the Columbus Day is actually October 12).
Columbus Day? October 12? Then why do some people have today off?
Well, yes, Columbus Day is still a national holiday, even though for many it's an obscure or obsolete holiday. Sometimes it seems that many Americans have forgotten the real reasons why we celebrate any of our national holidays, including this one. It's just another long weekend for the lucky ones.
The Santa Maria
Why October 12?
October 12, 1492, is the date when explorer Christopher Columbus (Genoa, 1451-1506) and his men set foot on the soil of the New World, the present day Bahamas, and claimed the land for Spain. Then they continued on to the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
Even though U.S. President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation in 1892 to honor four hundred-year anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Bahamas, it wasn’t a national holiday until 1937, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it a legal federal holiday.
I find it interesting that in quite a few Latin American countries, October 12 is celebrated as Día de la Raza. In the Bahamas it is called Discovery Day, Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain, and as Día de las Américas in Uruguay.
Columbus Discovered America, Right?
Well, not exactly. It depends on how you define the word “discover.” What about the Indians living there when Columbus landed? And what about Leif Ericson (970-1020) the Norse explorer who is regarded as the first European to land in North America some 500 years before Columbus?
Christopher Columbus Leif Ericson Amerigo Vespucci
While it’s true that Columbus never set foot on what U.S. citizens consider “America,” he never claimed he had. The name “America” (bestowed on the New World) was derived from the name of explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (Florence, 1454-1512).
Why did Vespucci get to name the New World and not Columbus?
That’s another ironic quirk of history. Vespucci didn’t name it, either. In fact, both Columbus and Vespucci believed what they discovered to be parts of Asia that, at that point, had not been explored by Europeans. Historians say neither had any concept of a new continent.
One source indicates Amerigo Vespucci was a merchant from Venice who owned a business in Spain outfitting ships for mercantile expeditions. Another claims he worked for Lorenzo de' Medici and was sent, in 1492, to work at the Seville, Spain branch of the Medici bank. According to that source, King Manual I of Portugal invited Vespucci to participate as observer in several exploratory voyages to the east coast of South America between 1499 and 1502. Both versions might be correct.
However he got there, Vespucci accompanied those expeditions to South America and, as a result, wrote letters with glowing descriptions of the newly discovered countries which he called the lands of a "New World."
Vespucci’s letters were read by Martin Waldseemuller, a noted geographer, and Mathias Ringmann, who were preparing a reproduction of Ptolemy's treatise on geography. They decided to incorporate Vespucci's voyage into the treatise. Ringmann, acting as editor, was apparently unaware of Columbus’ discoveries fifteen years earlier and wrote the following in his introduction: “There is a fourth quarter of the world which Amerigo Vespucci has discovered and which for this reason we can call 'America' or the land of Americo."
Their work (entitled "Cosmographiae Introductio") was published in April, 1507, and marked the first time the word America appeared in print.
And this is sooo not what I learned in high school American History.
According to Toby Lester, a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the author of The Fourth Part of the World, “History hasn’t served poor Matthias Ringmann nearly as well [as Martin Waldseemuller]. That doesn’t seem quite fair. So tonight let’s send up a few of our fireworks in honor of the man who had the audacity to declare, before anybody else, that the world had a fourth part—and to imagine that he might be the one who could give it a name.”
Does Columbus Get The Credit?
Stories have it that Columbus died broke and in jail, but for the most part, the history books give Columbus the credit for “discovering” the new world and opening up the Americas to European colonization. They also lay the blame for the negative impacts of his arrival in the Western Hemisphere. A double-edged sword.
He is also blamed for the destruction of the native peoples of the islands he explored, and he is labeled a racist, as were most of the aristocracy of that period. People have expended many words on extolling his successes and virtues and criticizing his faults and failures. There is plenty to read, if you want to explore those avenues.
One Thing You Can Be Sure Of
Christopher Columbus changed the world, and we acknowledge that on October 12.
Sunday Delurking Question
When do you feel sexy?
I recently read an interesting post on Author Sydney Bristol's blogsite. She wrote, "This last week I had a simple, innocent question posed to me that’s kind of messed with my head. When do you feel sexy? That’s a pretty easy question, right? It is, if you feel sexy. I’ve never embraced that mindset that I can be sexy. I’m too silly, too goofy, not pretty enough…"
I agree with her that "sexy" isn't a body type or a certain look. It's not a list of attributes. It's probably not even being turned on when living vicariously through a character that you write or read about. So what is feeling sexy? When do you feel sexy?
RIE MUÑOZ – AN ALASKAN TREASURE
By R. Ann Siracusa
Reprinted from the RB4U Blog – 09/10/2012
Most creative people, regardless of the media they work in, can appreciate creativity in other fields. I love art, and in Alaska this spring (2012), I became aware of a contemporary watercolor artist whose work I was unfamiliar with. I was amazed and delighted to make such a wonderful discovery. The artist is Rie Muñoz, and she is considered an Alaskan State Treasure.
Rie Muñoz The Embrace
Rie Muñoz’ paintings are fresh, spontaneous, and full of fun. She conveys the subtle messages everyday life in her work. About herself, she writes:
"My artwork can best be described as expressionism. The term applied to work that rejects camera snapshot realism, and instead, expresses emotion by distortion and strong colors. My paintings reflect an interest in the day-to-day activities of Alaskans such as fishing, berry picking, children at play, crabbing and whaling. I am also fascinated with the legends of Alaska's Native people. While I find much to paint around Juneau, most of my materials comes from sketching trips taken to the far corners of Alaska."
Rie wasn't born in Alaska. She was born in Van Nuys, CA, in 1921, but spent much of her early life in Holland where her Holland-Dutch father was a partner in a business magazine. He wrote stories about business in America, so he traveled to the US often with the family. In 1939, when Germany threatened to occupy Holland, Rie was sent to the US with a younger brother to live with friends in Plainview, NJ.
Since the US gave visas only to parents with minor children living in the US, her parents applied and received visas. A few days before they were scheduled to leave, Hitler attacked Holland. Rie's parents weren't able to come to the US until 1947. After one year of high school, she joined her older brother in Hollywood, CA, where she had to earn a living. She began with a job decorating windows in a North Hollywood dime store.
At some point she moved to Seattle. While living there, in 1951, she traveled to Alaska on vacation, taking the Inside Passage by steamship. When the ship stopped in Juneau, she fell in love with the city and its surroundings. She writes that she gave herself the one day before the ship sailed to find a job and a place to live.
After walking a few blocks, she went into the offices of the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper, where she was hired on the spot. Next she walked along Seventh Street and saw a woman hanging laundry out to dry. She asked the woman if she knew of anyone with a place to rent and the woman said, "I have a place for you." So Rie moved in with the Finnish woman and her husband, paying them $5 a week.After she collected her belonging from the steamship two days later, she called her parents and told them she wasn't coming back. And Alaska has been her home ever since.
That's a pretty gutsy woman, if you ask me.
In Juneau, her first painting was of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church on Fifth Street downtown. She worked in oils in the beginning before perfecting her craft in watercolors.
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church – Juneau, Alaska
Over the years, Rie Muñoz has been a journalist, a cartoonist, editor, teacher, museum curator, and artist. At one point, she taught 25 Eskimo children on King Island, a 13-hour umiak (a walrus-skin boat) voyage from Nome.
She studied art at Washington and Lee University, Virginia and at the University of Alaska-Juneau. She received the University of Alaska's Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree in May of 1999, and, as I mentioned, she is considered a State of Alaska Treasure
These are photos of some of the signed prints I purchased at her gallery in Juneau.
This August she celebrated her 90th birthday. She no longer paints. To see more of her work, visit this website.
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LIVING ON THE EDGE…OF A CRATER, THAT IS
Where can you live on the rim of a volcano crater?
There may be more than one answer to that—I don't know for sure—but I know there's at least one place in the world where people not only can live on the rim of a crater, but do live there.
On my cruise to Greece and Turkey this spring, we visited Santorini, one of the Greek Isles in the southern Aegean Sea. I’d heard a lot about Santorini, but I didn't know what to expect. It's among the more interesting of the islands because of its unique history. Located about 120 miles from the Greek mainland, it is the largest island in a small circular archipelago formed by an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed what was a single island.
I guess that’s happened a few times throughout history, but this eruption was one of the largest in recorded history. It occurred approximately 3,600 years ago, at the height of the Minoan civilization.
The Minoan civilization, which evolved on the island of Crete circa the 27th century BC (The Bronze Age) and lasted until the 15th century BC, eventually dominated the islands of the Aegean Sea, including the island of Thera (sometimes known as Strongili).
The volcanic eruption in circa 1500 BC destroyed the island of Thera, leaving what is today the volcanic caldera made up of two now-inhabited islands, Santorini and Therasia, and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronsi, and Christiana. The eruption left the remaining land masses uninhabited throughout the rest of the Bronze Age (about 300 years), during which time the Greeks took over Crete.
That eruption caused a gigantic tsunami which may also contributed to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete 68 miles to the south. One popular theory is that this eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.
A second volcanic eruption of great magnitude took place sometime between 1500 BC and 1400 BC creating huge tidal waves along the coasts of Africa and Asia Minor. That activity is the source of the postulation that the eruption was the cause of the biblical plagues in Egypt since the event corresponds with the dating of Moses in Egypt.
After that, the volcano became dormant until another eruption in196 BC, when the island of Palea Kameni was created by the lava flow at the point of eruption. Activity continued until 1711 AC but the eruptions were not as strong, but even in the twentieth century there has been enough activity to cause damage.
The formation of the caldera (a feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption and sometimes confused with volcanic craters) is best seen in map below.
The archipelago consists of a more-or-less rectangular lagoon (4x8 miles) surrounded by the steep cliffs of Santorini island on three sides and on the fourth side the smaller island of Therasia. The lagoon is connected to the sea in two places (northwest and southwest) and is 400 feet deep, allowing all but the largest ship to enter.
Excavations in Santorini, Therassia, and Aspronisi revealed a developed civilization similar to the Minoan that flourished in Crete around 200 BC. They cultivated food, made pottery, painted wall frescos and traded with neighboring islands.
Wall Paintings Pottery
The first inhabitants of were probably coastal people from Asia Minor and, according to Herodotus, the Phoenicians. After the 1500 BC eruption, everything had been covered with volcanic ash and lava, and it remained unoccupied until around 1050 BC when Theras, former king of Sparta, came there. After that it was called Thera.
Oia Village (north end of island)
This has to be one of the most scenic places in Europe. With only a couple thousand permanent residents, there’s not much there except the quaint village and dramatic scenery to be photographed.
There are a lot of small villages and wonderful beaches, so Santorini is a popular place for a relaxing vacation...or a lot of action.
You can see why traveling is my inspiration for writing. I look for unique features of the location try to envision what could happen only in that civilization or in that specific place. Santorini might be the inspiration for an historical or even fantasy.
To leave a message, click on “comments” above
Welcome to Romancing the Hop!
What is your favorite thing about Romance? Well, we authors are ready to share our romantic tips and favorite romance reads! Starting on Friday August 31st and ending on Monday September 3, over 100 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about romance, reading romance, and dating.
An American / Italian Love Story
R. Ann Siracusa
Everyone has a story, and for many people that story is a romance…although not all of them have happy endings in real life. That's one of the wonderful aspects of the romance novels. You can become anyone, go anywhere, and experience every emotion, without leaving home and without risk. And you experience the joy of H.E.A.
This is my romantic story.
After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1963 with a degree in architecture, I went to Rome to study at the University of Rome. I arrived via London, where I'd spent a week with a friend from Berkeley. Only July 26, my first day in Rome and at the Fountain of Love in Piazza Esedra (also called Piazza Della Republica), I met the man I married and am still married to.
I’d just arrived by train that afternoon, and had eaten nothing all day. Once I found a place to stay for a few days, I went looking for an American Bar that I remembered from my first time in Rome. I was dying for a hamburger after a week in England.
The café (I can't recall the name anymore) wasn't far from my rooming house near the train station, located on Via Nazionale, which intersected with Piazza Della Republica. However, there were, and still are, at least five streets traversing that piazza. I planned sit down by the fountain in the center of the piazza to figure it out.
In those day (long before air conditioning), during the hot summer afternoons, the Italians sat around the rims of the fountains seeking cool relief from the heat in the light fountain spray. The only cool place around. When I got there and waited for a break in the traffic to cross the street, I noticed, sitting on the rim of the fountain, a good looking man who made me think of the Italian actor, Marcello Mastroianni.
Luciano Marcello Mastroianni
Pretty cool. I didn't delude myself that he was the actor, but the man looked a lot like him. That was good enough. I skipped across the street, dodging cars and motorscooters in my three inch spiked heels, and sat down next to him. After a while, he started talking to me (HeHeHe), but I don't remember how we communicated. He spoke a little English, I spoke a few words in Italian from one semester of the language at Berkeley.
Despite the communication problem, I learned he was a Guardia of the Pubblica Sicurezza, a state policeman, who worked in the passport office. And when he invited me to dinner, I accepted. Oh, yeah.
We found other ways to communicate, as young people usually do. Things got very friendly on the steps of the Palazzo Della Civitá, but it was dark by then—thank goodness—and we were up a million steps from street level, under the arcade.
Under other circumstances, I probably would have slapped his face (that's my story and I'm sticking with it) and left, but I had no Italian money and didn’t know where I was or how to get to my hotel. Well, I was young, inexperienced, and not the brightest bulb on the tree.
When he returned me to my pensione late that night, we made a date for the next afternoon. A date I almost missed because I had to register for Italian classes at a language school. I met two other American girls who wanted to share a room, and the time slipped away. I had to run all the way from the bus to the rooming house to catch him before he left.
After that, I was smitten. A couple of months later, I had to look up the word fidanzata in my Italian-English dictionary to find out I was engaged., and in December we got married in a civil ceremony at City Hall (the Campidoglio).
But that's just the beginning of the saga. I'll save the rest for another time. Leave your comments and enter the drawing.
Please welcome my special guest Author Liz Crowe
Leave a comment and you may win a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
(Please leave your e-mail address if you comment and want to win)
Thanks for having me Ann!
I am often asked “why real estate Liz?” “Just what is sexy about realtors?”
Once I get past the self-righteous indignation (I WAS a realtor and am DEAD sexy thank you very much), I can honestly say back “Why not?”
Think about it. When you sell houses for a living as I did for nearly 7 years in the absolute worst downtown know to modern man (2004-2011) you have to have a shit ton of self confidence to face yourself in the mirror every day. You are scrapping for every referral, every dollar and even the smallest failure is not an option. These people LIVE on 100% commission. There is no safety net. Yeah, the commissions can be pretty big, IF you know what you’re doing and do it well. But the whole concept of a guaranteed direct deposit from XYW Widget Corp. LLC into your bank account on the 30th of every month is simply non existent.
Sure there are crappy realtors. Just like there are crappy teachers, shitty dentists and lazy Widget inspectors. But by and large, in the very large and successful regional company I sold for every person there was an absolute professional. We were expected to “dress the part” and were discouraged from any kind of “casual Friday” attitude. We had to keep our cars clean and ready to host buyers in. Had to know the latest and greatest technologies in video, photos, and promotion. And had to work long hours when every one else on the planet was resting.
Think about the last time you bought a house. Did you go house hunting 9-5, Monday-Friday? Nope. You were with your agent on weekends, evenings and in many cases holidays.
So I just took a look around at the highly motivated, successful and driven professionals around me and said “what if…” a couple of them who seemed like anathema to each other were somehow drawn together by that mysterious “chemistry” we like to prattle on about in our romance books? And what if they kept bouncing off each other like magnets turned the wrong way? Wanting to connect, and making the odd connection and giving off a lot of heat in the process but then ricocheting away from each other once again?
In this high risk, high reward business only the strong survive. And the stress can make you crazy or turn to a colleague to blow off a little steam!
Conditional Offer is the 5th book in the best selling Stewart Realty series and is the story of Craig Robinson, the “other man” in Sara Thornton’s life. One she befriends, but who ultimately realizes she is meant for Jack. It’s his early days before he gets his real estate license on a whim and is dropped into the vortex of sex and emotion that is the Stewart Realty series.
It is now available on Amazon, Are and Barnes and Noble in both print and ebook format.
Conditional Offer: Stewart Realty Book 5
Craig Robinson and Suzanne Baxter had no reason to meet, no real excuse to be friends. But when heart calls to heart...blood to blood...should two people who seem destined to be together heed the spin of Fate's wheel?
Craig spent years floating through life on cruise control, using directionless jobs, his rock band, swimming, and a string of older women in his bed to smother feelings of loneliness and loss. He finally thought he had found his true love in one Sara Thornton -- A sexy, beautiful, fellow real estate agent and mentor. But his self-doubt and innate sense of failure is only reinforced when he realizes her heart belongs to another man.
When Sara introduces him to Suzanne, a woman fighting her own demons from an abusive marriage and subsequent feelings of inadequacy and deep unhappiness, that chance moment snaps Craig's hazy existence into crystal clear focus. A bond born of instant physical attraction is nurtured by time and shared experience, and plenty of erotic energy.
As Suzanne's past continues to haunt her, making her push Craig away just as he thinks he’s getting closer, each of them must come to terms with their true selves and face their ultimate realities.
To View the Book Trailer, click here:
Liz Crowe's Bio:
Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great middle west, in a Major College Town.
Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry) has prepped her for life as erotic romance author. When she isn't sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications. Her ground breaking romance sub genre: “Romance for Real Life” has gained thousands of fans and followers, interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)
Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.