So you can read my books

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Over a HALF MILLION Served!

Over a HALF MILLION have visited my blog!  

Who would have thought?

I am usually shy about tooting my own horn.  

Besides, when someone else does it, the sound travels farther.  

Or at least that is what the ghost of Will Rogers tells me:

I am trying to dwell on the positive since I spotted a questionable area on my left temple.  

What with Christmas, it will be two weeks before the surgeon can look at it ... if then.  Sigh.

But enough of that!

Thank you for all of you who have visited these past four years.  

Thank you very much!  

Over that time and through your comments, you have become family.  :-)

A small thought:

Robert Rossman did a fantastic job on HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE.  He worked very hard on it. 

And it hasn't gotten much attention.  It makes me feel bad for all his efforts.  

And this winter has been ugly to him.

Did you know that if you buy the kindle book for 99 cents, you can purchase his audio of it for ONLY $1.99?

Francene Lockett likewise did a wonderful job on END OF DAYS.  

Christmas has been grim for her as well.  

If you purchase the Kindle book for $1.99

you can get the regular $24.95 audiobook of it for ONLY $1.99!

That's 11 hours of listening to Francene's stirring narration for under TWO DOLLARS!

It takes 4 HOURS of work for a narrator to make 1 HOUR of audio.  

Francene toiled 44 HOURS for END OF DAYS!

Many of you are creative souls.  

You know what it is to receive feedback.  The numbers of units is one way.  

Francene, Robert, and I will never get rich off one fourth of $2. 

But to see people buy their hard-won audio's will be a great Christmas present for them.

If you have already bought the audiobook, 

write an Amazon review on how their vocal talents touched you.

Don't write AT ALL about my writing in the review.  

This request is for them, for they have become my friends.

Just comment on how their narrations painted an evocative world for you.

It will be a Christmas gift 
that will add warmth to their winter. 

May this Christmas Season bring you only
Happy Surprises!

Dedicated to each and every one of you, my friends:

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Change of Pace and a FREE BOOK

{The fae clone, Hope, courtesy of the genius of Leonora Roy}

At Midnight Saturday my Christmas gift to all of you!


Think THE HOBBIT meets
Doomsday has come … and gone. 

What can the Spirit of the Earth do when all hope is gone?
Create Hope
 Or rather a clone of the last Sidhe. 

But when you’re a small fae girl just awakened to find you are

the only hope for the world,
the chances for a happy ending seem … hopeless.

The eternal night beckons. 

Doom is on the horizon.  The odds are against her.

But in Faerie,

it is wiser to bet against a cornered dragon than a Sidhe.





I have a Christmas tradition which answers the question for me.

HOME ALONE is just as dated in its way as Dickens' Christmas Carol.

Yet for me it is forever young.

Chris Columbus' movie represents both a childhood long left behind and, 

indeed, a bygone age that doesn't make sense anymore viewed from the 21st century. 

The entire premise of HOME ALONE is now an impossibility, 

 because how could a child end up accidentally abandoned 

and declared missing in this new Millennium of mass communication? 

With post-War on Terror airport security checks being what they are, 

the McCallister parents couldn't possibly get on a plane to Paris without noting that one of their group is AWOL.

Today, Kevin would be live-tweeting his ordeal, 

sticking giddy selfies all over cyberspace and then - if he started to feel frightened and forlorn - 

signing-in to Skype to sing Christmas carols to his folks in France.

 It's actually quite fascinating and strangely comforting to revisit 

this quaint pre-internet, pre-mobile phone era of VHS tapes and 4:3-ratio TVs. 

And with regard to its precise place in history, 

as a film it also marks the timely convergence of John Hughes in his peak

 with a star about to go nova and a cultural environment that was ideal 

for HOME ALONE's explosion as an international mega-hit.

The film deftly uses Christmas as a narrative engine on which to power a resonant comedy-action-drama.

This fun movie continues to resound in the hearts of all children, no matter the age of their bodies.

The secret to HOME ALONE's longevity

 is its delicate balancing of a sense of peril and menace 

with a sense of fun and a sense of sweet Christmas-ness: 

all elements beautifully expressed by John William's wonderful score. 


Thursday, December 18, 2014


In life, I grew insane with long intervals of horrible sanity. 
In death, the horrible fact is that all through life I had been blind to so much
that now as a ghost I see all too clearly.
I know I was right when I was alive, yet dead to the wonder about me, and wrote the words:
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.
But the dream of which I wish to write tonight is the dream of Christmas ...

that magic blanket that wraps itself around us,

that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.
It may weave a spell of nostalgia.

Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer,
but always it will be a day of remembrance--

a day in which we think of everything

and everyone

we have ever loved.

Yet, I see that for you living to perceive Christmas through its wrappings
becomes more difficult with every passing year.

Its song of Peace and Good Will to Man becomes more off-key with every wintry passing.
Still you living need that song to hold to when the darkness seems so alive.

I hear that in many places something has happened to Christmas.

That it is changing from a time of merry hearts and carefree joy to a holiday which is filled with drudgery.

that many people dread the day,

and the obligation to give Christmas presents is a nightmare to weary souls;

that the children of enlightened parents no longer believe in Santa Claus.

That all in all, the effort to be happy and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark with despair

instead of glowing with good will and cheer.

And the true tragedy to that is
that it is a self-inflicted poison to the soul.

But I, myself, have always thought of Christmas time

as a good time: a kind, forgiving, loving time;

the only time I know of, in the year's long journey of months,

when men and women seem by silent agreement to open their shut-up hearts freely,

and to think of people around them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave,

and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

I sometimes think we expect too
much of Christmas Day.

We try to crowd into it the long debts of kindness and compassion of the whole year.

As for me, when alive, I liked to take my Christmas a little at a time,

all through the year.

And thus I drifted along into the holidays--let them overtake me unexpectedly--

waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:

'Why this is Christmas Day!'
And feel re-born as a child again.

Because there's nothing sadder in this world than to awaken Christmas morning and not be a child.

But that's the magic of Christmas ...

for one short season, we can all become children again

in our hearts ... and in our dreams.

Each year, the world and our souls seem to grow older and darker,

but at Christmas time, our souls seem to see the world as cleaner

and we feel younger, closer to that magic which lived within us as children.

It is the magic that casts its wintry spell so that there are no strangers on Christmas Eve.

It is the magic that murmurs that if there is no Christmas in your heart,
there will be none under your tree.

And it is that magic which brings us the real truth of Christmas:

We are never alone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You're doing WHAT for CHRISTMAS?


Photo By Ozchin (flickr)


Japan: KFC for Christmas dinner

In many Japanese homes a KFC bucket with fried chicken is the main dish at Christmas.

Thanks to a lack of turkeys and smart marketing by KFC the fried chicken is so popular you have to order weeks in advance for the holidays.


In India, only about 2.3% of the population are Christians, but because of the large population they have, we are talking about 25 million people here!

Christians here celebrate Christmas with midnight mass and gift-giving like the rest of the world,

but with the absence of fir trees or pine trees to decorate, they usually made do with banana trees and mango trees instead.


Christmas log

The bizarre Catalonian tradition of caga tió (or "defecating log" in English) involves creating a character out of a small log -

often complete with a grinning face and hat –

which sits on the dining room table during the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

It has to be fed every day with fruit, nuts and sweets, and then

on Christmas Eve

the entire family beats the log with sticks, while singing traditional songs, forcing the log to excrete its treats.

You couldn't make it up.


The ghost of Christmas past

During "consoda", the traditional Christmas feast in Portugal, families will sometimes set extra places at the dining table for deceased relatives.

It is thought that the practice will ensure good fortunes for the household.


If you don’t want to celebrate another Christmas single, then try this:

stand with your back to the door and throw a shoe over your shoulders on Christmas day!

If the shoe lands with the toe pointing to the door, congratulations, you’re going to get married soon!

There’s no clue as to how long before you meet your prince charming though.


In 1966 a 13-metre tall goat figure made of straw was erected in the town square of Gavle, Sweden.

 At the stroke of midnight, Christmas Eve, the goat went up in flames.

But the town never stopped building it year after year, and vandals never stopped trying to burn the goat down!

By 2011, the goat has already been burned down 25 times.

The burning of the Gavle goat happened so often that bookmakers began taking bets for the survival of the goat since 1988.



As watchers of the TV show, GRIMM, know ...

 St Nicholas's evil accomplice in Austrian tradition, Krampus, is a demon-like creature that punishes bad children.

Men dressed as Krampus roam the streets during the festive period, frightening the little ones.


In Ukranian homes, people hide a (hopefully artificial) spider and its web inside their Christmas tree.

The person who finds the eight-legged creature is granted good luck.

The tradition comes from an old folk tale about a widow who was too poor to decorate the family tree.

A spider spun its web around it.

When the Christmas day sun touched the threads, they turned to gold and silver making for a very happy and prosperous holiday.


Don’t expect to find a broom in a Norwegian household after Christmas Eve dinner.

Families hide them so that witches and other mischievous spirits won’t steal them to terrorize the town.

{Photo courtesy R. fiend -- that's what he wants to be called.}


Mari Lwyd

Christmas carols in some Welsh villages take a twisted turn during the ritual of Mari Lwyd.

Donning a decorated mare’s skull (sometimes with a spring-loaded jaw so the mouth can snap at children) and white sheet,

a person parades the streets with a group singing songs hoping to be granted admittance into stranger’s homes for food, fun, and drink.


Having a Blue Christmas?

I am probably the last person who remembers Shotgun Red -

a puppet who appeared on the late lamented NASHVILLE NOW.

On his Christmas Special, Shotgun was driving in the snowy night, trying to reach his family before Christmas.

He kept switching radio channels but no matter what station he found, the tune BLUE CHIRSTMAS blared out: Elvis, Ernest Tubb, Willie Nelson ...

When he turned to the last station he could get and got the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it, Shotgun raised his head and howled like a wolf.

Is that Blue Christmas wolf howling inside you right now?

There are ways to starve it and feed the Serene Wolf within:


You may be expected to show up at a family gathering, or to attend a certain set of social events, but if you are not going to feel comfortable in certain environments,

 then simply decline the invitation.

Choosing when to step out and mingle and when to have a quiet night in,

 no matter what day your calendar says, is a great practice in self-care and a great way to avoid a Blue Christmas this year.


We are much more likely to make poor decisions when we feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, so taking time to check in with your current mental and emotional states is important.

Did you choose wisely and commit to a party that you are now feeling too tired to attend?

You have the right to not go.

When tired, for example, the chances of you making decisions that are not aligned with your values, goals, and way of life are higher.

What can you do instead?

Take a nap and see how you feel. Rent a movie and cook some dinner either alone or with a trusted friend.

Listen to new Christmas carols that are not tied to any bittersweet memories. 

Browse YouTube for comedians that add sparkle to your private times.


Instead of indulging at every event, and every time a treat is offered, stay balanced with your daily intake.

If you indulged at a get together last night,

try having a breakfast of fruit and a whole grain (maybe oatmeal or wheat toast with peanut butter) and a hearty salad for lunch.

 Starting the day off with good food choices leads to better food choices throughout the day.

The see-saw of Christmas blues can be swung your way by laughter --

seek out sources that make you smile and laugh. 

And try to add the perfume of laughter to someone else's day -- some of it will linger on you.


Not just for help -- but to give it as well. 

That elderly neighbor you haven't seen in awhile?  Drop in with a plate of cookies or a holiday turkey or food for her pet.

Have friends slipped away from your daily contacts? 

Emails are short and simple. Twitter and FB them, letting them know you miss them.


By simply taking a walk everyday, you are getting the blood flowing and keeping your body in active mode.

Increased activity releases endorphins which will elevate your mood.

Just as antibody production is connected to both exercise and happiness, so too is endorphin production.

Endorphins act as both a painkiller and as the pay-off for your body's reward system.

You may also get an endorphin blast from talking to a stranger, eating a satisfying meal or being exposed to ultraviolet light.

A jog, an hour of yoga,

(just me trying to get into those ridiculous positions is good for a good belly laugh -- from those watching me)

 a trip to the gym, a bike ride, or anything else that makes you feel good is even more important this time of year.

What can also keep you from a Blue Christmas is movement in the form of volunteering.

It is hard to be down when you are helping others.

Check with your local food kitchen or charitable donation centers for when and where you can provide service to those in need.

Give yourself permission to feel down for 30 seconds and then do something nice for someone else.
It really does help. 
Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Photo courtesy of Frank C. Grace -- any of his prints may be purchased at

"It is my heart-warming and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration

that all of us,

the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the despised, the admired, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage

(every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth),

may eventually be gathered in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss --

except the inventor of the telephone."

- Mark Twain, Boston Daily Globe.

Journal of Captain Samuel McCord

(December 24, 1874)

Sammy Clemens looked at me and sighed,

"Captain Sam, if you live long enough,

the approach of the holiday season can stir up sad memories as well as happy ones."

His blue/grey eyes sparkled, "So I aim to make the happy ones sizzling!"

He was dressed as the most fur-layered Santa Claus I had ever seen.

He held up the telephone in his right fur-gloved hand and glared at Nikola Tesla at my side.

"I might as well make use of this danged instrument you forced me to invest in, Nikola.

Why I declare I would have made twice as much money if you had let me invest in that Paige typesetter."

Nikola huffed, "Oh, go suck on your false beard! What do you know of science? I, the far-seeing genius that I am ---"

Sammy snorted, "And humble, too!"

Nikola happily ignored him and continued,

"I saw the design flaws in that machine and saw the potential in Mr. Bell's invention -- since he stole it from me!

Besides, it was Captain McCord who forced you to invest in the telephone. Why berate me?"

"Because you can't turn me into a turnip, you jack nape, that's why."

He turned to me. "Can you do your Apache hoodoo and set me at the foot of Susy's and Clara's bed?"

"Yes, Sammy, but it's the middle of Christmas Eve night."

"That's the whole dang point! I put this fancy telephone gadget on their night stand to wake 'em up on this very night."

I smiled sadly. 

On the outside, Sammy was all humbug. But there was nothing he would not do to hear the happy squeals of delight from his daughters.

He dialed the telephone number of his daughters' phone. 
It was 7. Sammy had one of the first telephones to be installed in a home.

He literally danced in place, waiting for one of his daughters to pick up and answer. "Dang, little heathens sleep as heavy as damp logs!"

His eyes lit up, "Hello, Susy! This is the Man in the Moon. (That was Sammy's nickname for Santa.)"

I heard the girl's sleepy voice, "Oh, Papa, I know your voice!"

"You accuse Santa of swearing false?"

He pulled out a chuck of coal from his pocket and winked at me. "For that, I will hand-deliver a lump of coal!"

I sucked in a breath I didn't need and folded the fabric of distance as I wanted. Sammy disappeared with a yelp and a rush of air going with him to his daughters' room.

Nikola shook his head as we heard distant screams of shock and delight from the girls' room. I counted to three. I re-folded distance again.

Sammy reeled to the wall, laughing so hard he held his pillow-fattened stomach with both gloved hands.

"Oh, Captain Sam! You should have seen their faces! No Santa-naying for them gals from this day on!"

Nikola turned to me with one raised eyebrow. "Thankfully for his daughters, I hear good things of a Dr. Freud in Vienna."

{And that's the way it was at Christmas in Hartford, 1876 -- give or take a lie or two.}
For more of Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla,
and Sam McCord

- This time in 1895 Egypt -

Read or Listen to

In response to Helena's question, 
Here is a photo of feisty Mark in Nikola's lab:
{Notice Nikola in the background}