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Superstitions Connected with New Year

The beginning of a new year is widely celebrated as a time of great magical significance, and every society has its own rituals associated with the event. Perhaps the best known of all the New Year superstitions in the Western world is the business of "first footing." Apparently, a Scottish invention, the "first footer" is the first man to cross the threshold after the hour of midnight has struck: if he is dark-haired and carries with him such propitious objects as a piece of coal, bread, salt, and money, the good luck of the household is guaranteed for the whole year ahead. If, however, the first footer is blond or red-headed, bad luck will befall the house; if the first footer is female this is even worse, as she ushers in only the direst misfortune.


In an ideal world, the first footer will be a stranger to all present and on no account must he be cross-eyed or flat-footed or have eyebrows that meet in the middle. Once let into the house, he may then be shown out again by the back door, thus symbolically letting the old year out. in the event that no suitable first footer presents himself, the owner of a house should carry a piece of coal into his own home early on New Year's Day. Historical variations include regional traditions that have the person concerned entering the house on Christmas Day (in which case, in Yorkshire at least, he was referred to as the "Lucky Bird").


Other New Year superstitions depend on the notion that whatever happens at this particular time sets the pattern for the rest of the year. It is unlucky, therefore, to see the New Year in with no food or drink in the cupboards -- they will remain bare over the ensuing twelve months. The same applies to money. Some people similarly contend that the fire should not be allowed to go out during this first night of the year, lest the hearth remain cold permanently. Likewise, it is important that before anything is allowed out of the house (even the ashes from the fire or the dust from the floor) something must be brought in -- indeed, in many areas people will show reluctance to throw away anything at all during New Year's Day for fear of throwing their luck away with it.


Rising early is a good idea, and to ensure a busy and profitable year at word all those in employment should do something during New Year that reflects their work in some way, even if they take New Year's Day itself off (it is, incidentally, very unlucky to do any serious work on this day). Wearing something new on New Year's Day, meanwhile, promotes the chances of receiving further new clothing in the year ahead. By much the same token, New Year is a bad time to pay money or to make loans, lend precious belongings or break anything. Ideally, any outstanding debts should be settles by New Year's Eve to ensure that further debts are not incurred in the year to come. Washing clothes on New Year's Day is inadvisable, for one of the family will themselves be "washed away" in the months ahead.


The practice of "ringing in" the New Year on church bells dates back centuries and is echoed in the wild shouting, singing, and other noise-making that takes place at midnight. This is more than just high spirits: the noise is supposed to drive away demons and other evil spirits and get the New Year off to a good start. Party goers, meanwhile, are advised that they should avoid speaking ill of the dying year until it is actually over in order to preserve their luck, and that to give their own fortune a boost they should consume the very last drops of any bottle that has been opened. If the party drink runs out, they may also like to know of the superstition which claims that well water turns to wine on New Year's Eve.


Attention should be paid to the weather during the early hours of New Year's Day. If the wind blows from the north, bad weather is in store; if it comes from the south, fine weather and prosperous times lie ahead; if it blows from the east, famine or some other calamity is on the way; if it blows from the west, the year will witness plentiful supplies of milk and fish but will also see the death of a very distinguished personage. If there is no wind at all, a joyful and prosperous year may be expected by all.

Lastly, babies born on New Year's Day will grow up with luck always on their side.

Have a Happy New Year, dear readers!

When a Bibliophile is Loved

How's the holidays treating everyone? Did you get what you wanted under the tree this year? In my case, I felt loved. As addicted as we all are to books, it's always great to receive them from loved ones. It shows how much they know and care about you. I dread the day I will need an intervention from books. Thank goodness reading addiction is legal. So, how much mental crack did I get this Christmas? See picture below.


Now, the first part of my 2011 reading list is complete. I look forward to reading these books in the next few months. To know more about these books, click on the links provided.




















What did you get this Christmas, dear reader?

Hunger by Noey Pico

Hallu, dear readers!


I've been busy editing Lunar Heat, which is why I haven't been posting for a while. But for today, I have something very special for all of you.




I'm sure that you've heard the name Noey on this blog over and over again. She's a really good friend of mine. She picks out the winners for every giveaway. And she's a songwriter.


Today, I present to you the theme song that Noey wrote for Lunar Heat. Take a listen and let me know what you think.



To read the first chapter of Lunar Heat, you can click HERE.


To visit Noey's website, you can click HERE.

Superstitions Connected with Christmas

As the most popular of all the year's religious festivals, Christmas is governed by a wealth of folk tradition and superstitions applying to virtually every aspect of the festive season. Descended from pagan midwinter celebrations, it remains a diverting occasion that thrives on the disparate elements of material excess and Christian solemnity.


In former times, the festivities got into earnest on Christmas Eve, when there was much feasting and jollity and the burning of the yule log took place. Christmas decorations should not be put up until Christmas Eve, but this superstition is now largely ignored and high streets are bedecked with Christmas decorations as early as November in many places (in the Philippines, Christmas starts in September).


Mistletoe, according to custom, should not be brought inside until as last as New Year's Eve, but this again is now largely ignored. Centerpiece of the Christmas decorations in virtually every home is the Christmas tree, which was originally revered by the ancient Druids and other pre-Christian societies as a symbol of fertility and has since, like many other evergreen trees and shrubs, come to represent good fortune.


Christmas cakes were usually eaten on Christmas Eve in the nineteenth century, though it was mostly unlucky to cut into that cake before that day dawned and a portion had to be preserved uneaten until Christmas Day itself. The doors of the house used to be opened at midnight to let out any evil spirits, and a Christmas candle was customarily placed in a window to burn all night long to guarantee the household's luck for another year (it was a bad sign if the candle went out before the family rose).


Fairies, it was said, held masses in Christ's honor at the bottom of mines at the hour of midnight, and farm animals are still supposed to kneel in homage and are briefly blessed with the power of speech at this time -- though it is fatal for a human to overhear what they say.


Christmas Eve is also a time when the supernatural may be consulted about the future. Lovestruck young girls are advised that on Christmas Eve they may be granted a vision of their future partner: all they have to do is walk backwards to a pear tree, around which they must then walk nine times. Apparently, if a girl taps on a her-house and gets a reply from the hens inside this means that she will not marry that year; if the cock cries at her tap then a wedding is on the cards. Another course of action is to scatter twelve sage leaves in the wind and thus to conjure up the image of a lover-to-be.


St. Nicholas, in his modern guise as Father Christmas or Santa Claus, will fill stockings hung on the chimney-breast overnight. This is in remembrance of the legend that St. Nicholas tossed three coins down the chimney of the house lived in by three poor sisters: the coins fell neatly into some stockings that were drying by the hearth.


The first person to open the door on Christmas morning to welcome in the spirit of Christmas is very lucky, and further good fortune will attend the household if the first visitor on Christmas morning happens to be a dark man (the arrival of a woman or a redhead is, however, a bad omen). If the sun is shining a fine harvest can be expected the following year. The modern fixation on a "white Christmas" probably derives from an old notion that this signifies fewer deaths in the year to come. Whatever the weather, it is, however, unlucky to attempt any but the most essential work, such as the feeding of animals, on Christmas Day.


Various superstitions surround the traditional Christmas Day menu, particularly the Christmas pudding. During its preparation, this must have been stirred -- in an east-to-west direction -- by every member of the household, even babies, if the luck of the household is to prosper. And any girl who omits to take part in this ritual can forget her chances of marriage in the coming year. Those who stir the pudding are allowed to make a wish as they do so, but must keep the nature of their wish to themselves if they really want it to come true. Into the mixture may be placed a silver coin, which will bestow luck upon the finder, a ring, which will hasten a wedding in the family, and a thimble for prosperity.


Children born on Christmas Day itself will never be troubled by ghosts and are safe from death by drowning or hanging. Those born on Christmas Eve are also deemed especially lucky. Though Christmas Day is a popular time for the telling of various horror stories, ghosts will not appear on this day of the year -- though some say that the headless images of those who are fated to die in the following twelve months may be discerned in the shadows cast on the walls by a roaring fire.


In modern times, the end of the festive season comes with Twelfth Night, when all decorations must be taken down on pain of extreme bad luck over the coming year. Those how take their decorations down before Twelfth Night, incidentally, are probably unaware that they are similarly prejudicing their luck over the twelve months ahead and are risking a death in the family. In the past, decorations were often allowed to remain in place until the end of January, when every last trace of them was removed on the ever of Candlemas.

Blogger Interview: Quaint Cottage Bookstore


About the Blog:

A blog that features various authors from around the world and their writings. Every book is described and offered for purchase should the reader wish. There are text links across the blog top to mini-biographies of various authors. This blog is for anyone who enjoys reading and learning from a wide selection of authors.

About the Blogger:

I graduated the University of Mississippi in 2008, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre/design. I have worked professionally as a stitcher/dresser in professional theatre. In 1985, I graduated from Heritage Christian University with an Associate's of Arts in Bible/religion. Currently, I am earning my Master's in criminal justice at the University of North Alabama. My daughter is married, and they live in Tennessee. I have a twin sister. My main interests are books and reading, theatre, crafts, sewing, and criminal justice issues. Blogging is a new interest that I am enjoying very much. I own and operate a website, http://www.homespunhannah.com, which is where I sell my original-design Americana dresses and wood decorative birdhouses.


Interview:

How long have you been blogging?

About 8 months

Why did you decide to blog?

To be able to share my likes with others who have the same interests

What books do you blog about and why?

Mostly classical literature, because I love history.

What memes can be found on your blog?

Literature has no real cultural boundaries. We can appreciate and learn from all cultures, not only our own. Appreciation for literature from around the world can be gained by anyone who is open and willing to read. This is not genetically hard-coded within us as humans. It is our free choice to increase in knowledge and thus grow emotionally as people.

What is your review style like?

The books included in my blog are books that I have read, and many I also own copies of. I include only books that I consider to be excellent rating. Taken into consideration is the writing style, subject matter, and organization of the book's contents.

If you can describe your blog in one word, what would it be and why?

Education. We can never learn too much about the people on this world and their cultures.

What advice can you give other bloggers about blogging?

Be honest. Speak to readers in a manner that is respectful and non-condescending.

What kind of promotion techniques do you use to get followers?

I try to offer much original content, and not just ads to make purchases. No one likes to be bombarded with ads when they enter a website or blog. I try to have variety in the authors and writings I choose to include.

If there was something you’d want your readers to take away from reading your blog, what would it be?

That knowledge and education are necessary in our lives. In order to better understand others, we need to be familiar with many cultures and situations. Reading is a great way to accomplish this goal.

What can readers look forward to from your blog in the future?

In the future, I will be adding more information to my top text link categories. As I gain new knowledge, those categories will be updated. I will also be posting new good books that I find available for purchase. Future posts will also report what books I am currently reading. I plan to include articles from authors in the future. Some of my books' authors are deceased, but some are not. I will be expanding my base of books to include more 21st century authors.

Blogger Remarks:

It's always a pleasure to meet new bloggers. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when meeting someone new. Thank you so much Danice for giving me the chance to feature you in this Blogger Interview series. Dear readers, come and visit Quaint Cottage Bookstore at: http://quaintcottagebooks.blogspot.com/

Drama Queens with Love Scenes Winner!

Dear readers, the Drama Queens with Love Scenes giveaway has come and gone. Man, the days are just slipping through our fingers, aren't they? It seemed only yesterday...


Anyway, my good friend Noey has graciously picked the winner once again. Please give her some love by taking a peek at her website, which showcases her music. You can visit it by clicking HERE.


Now, a copy of Drama Queens with Love Scenes goes to:




Karen Sparks


My dear, I will be emailing you for your particulars soon.


And, dear readers, don't forget that the Eclipse Calendar Giveaway is still on going. It ends on Dec. 31, 2010.

Author Interview: Lyn Fuchs


Sacred Ground and Holy Water: Travel Tales of Enlightenment is a collection of seventeen stories filled with humor, tragedy, adventure, sexual innuendo and spiritual insight. One reviewer called it “The guy-friendly Eat, Pray, Love.” New York Times Bestselling Author Tony D'Souza gave this critique: "No one since Hunter S. Thompson has loved the wild and woolly world with as much intensity, insight, passion and gusto as Lyn Fuchs in his new collection of travel writing Sacred Ground & Holy Water: Travel Tales of Enlightenment. From Africa, Central America, India, the Pacific Northwest, and back again, Lyn´s rambunctious dispatches from the far corners of our strange globe arrive with the full force of whitewater plunging from mountains, lava burning the very soles from our hiking boots. So delicious are the bountiful meals he eats, so beautiful the foreign lasses he dallies with, nothing is left for the reader but a searing jealousy, an aching desire to be out there ourselves. Thompson, rest his soul, would be proud." The book was published on December 1, 2010 by Coffeetown Press (165 pp, $15.95/paper ISBN: 978-1-60381-087-6). It is available in paperback or cloth ($23.95 retail price/ISBN: 978-1-60381-088-3) editions through Baker & Taylor or Ingram distributors. Ebook editions are available on Kindle and Smashwords. You can also order from Amazon.com or Coffeetown Press.

About the Author:

The travel writing of Lyn Fuchs (pronounced “Fox”) has appeared in Outdoor Canada, Monday Magazine, Canadian Ethnic Studies, The Dalhousie Review, Eclectica Literary Journal, Rose and Thorn, Gam Magazine, Paperplates Literary Journal, Travel Rag, 3:AM Magazine, artist-at-large, Long Trip Home, Crank Literary Journal, The Kinte Space, Travelmag, Hack Writers, Trip 101, Raging Face, Traveling Stories, The Best of Bluefoot Publishing and others. You may find Lyn in the Canadian rainforest, the Mexican desert or at LynFuchs.blogspot.com, but you won’t find his byline on anything that doesn’t captivate, amuse, inform, and inspire. Lyn is a professor of communication at the University of Papaloapan and has earned his Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in communication and philosophy. He doesn’t have a phone, but he does have an iguana. He enjoys hiking, coffee, and meditation.

Interview:

1. When did you decide to start writing?

My writing habit began when heavy snow sealed me for weeks into a log cabin, amidst the thick timber of Canada's craggy mountains. Life was forever changed. With nothing to do but observe minute details and reflect upon them, I spent silent solitary hours grasping for exact words to convey my experience to others, for when that connection would be restored. Meditations transformed into magazine articles. From eye to mind to pen, the journeys of my life were distilled into the stories that now make up my first book, to the very last one written on an isolated Mexican ranch under a fiery sunset and the influence of tequila. My spirit is within the pages too. If you aren't currently holed up at a snowy cabin or a sunny ranch but wish you were, I hope you'll let Sacred Ground & Holy Water take you there.

2. What is your genre and why did you decide to write a book in it?

One reviewer called Sacred Ground & Holy Water “the guy-friendly Eat, Pray, Love.” I have been kind of stubborn in my insistence that more writing should respect both yin and yang. I try to include both meaningful spiritual insight and raucous primal humor, a sensitivity to the beauty in the world and the guts to face its harsh realities. Sometimes this just offends everyone, but since I really believe that both male and female natures bring balance and value to life, I'm just going to keep doing it till somebody tells me to stop...and maybe even after that.

3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?

No, I tend to be very minimalist in my prose, so you won't find a lot of excess baggage.

4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?

The combination of the sacred and the irreverent, the romantic and the animalistic. I think God is secure enough to be funny and sexy. Not everyone agrees.

5. If you can describe your book in one word, what would it be and why?

Brash. You'll see.

6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?

Sacred Ground & Holy Water combines new and old world spirituality with reverence for nature, which are basic themes in this book.

7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your book?

Loyal readers of my magazine articles can rest assured that this work continues my quest for captivating wordcraft, inappropriate humor and profound observation. This book won't let you down. To those investing in my writing for the first time, I'm honored to have you aboard and confident these stories will make you laugh, ponder and probably get misty-eyed. Thanks for reading my stuff!

8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.

My name is Lyn, but I should be called Lyndiana Jones. I've survived enraged grizzlies, erupting volcanoes, Japanese sword fights and giant squid tentacles. I've been entrapped by FBI agents and held at gunpoint by renegade soldiers. I've sung with Bulgaria’s bluesmaster Vasko the Patch and met with Mexico’s Zapatista Army commander Marcos. I've been thrown out of forbidden temples in southern India and passed out in sweat lodges off the Alaskan coast. My navel has been inhabited by beetles and my genitals have been cursed by eunuchs. I've shared coffee with presidents, beer with pirates and goat guts with polygamists. I've contracted malaria, typhoid, salmonella and lovesickness around the world. It's hard to live that kind of life without gleaning a little wisdom, a wicked sense of humor, and some good stories to tell. Finding editors, publishers and readers willing to reap the benefits of my lunacy without the pain has not been that hard.

9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?

If you are a travel writer (as I am) tell people the truth (as you perceive it) about what's “out there.” People get enough politically-corrected views of the world within their own society, they certainly don't need more of the same claiming to be dispatches from afar. We all need the wisdom that comes from other cultural perspectives, even though those perspectives are not sugar-coated for easy swallowing. If travel writing doesn't challenge the ideas of the reader's culture, did anybody really travel?

Blogger Interview:

If you've noticed, dear reader, I ask the same questions during my interviews. This is because I want to keep an even playing field between the authors I interview. But even if the questions are the same, the answers are always different between authors. This week, it's been a pleasure to interview Lyn for this series. If you want to know more about him and his novel, you can visit his blog at: http://lynfuchs.blogspot.com/

Eclipse Calendar Giveaway!

Hallu, dear readers! The editing of Lunar Heat has got me shackled to Fred (my laptop), so I'll be in and out of the site this week and the next. But I want to leave everyone with another giveaway from me!


To celebrate the coming New Year, I want to give a lucky winner of Reads, Reviews, Recommends a 2011 Eclipse Calendar, as seen in the picture below:




Now, in the comments section, I'm going to need:


1. Your Name


2. Your Email


For extra entries:


a. Blog about it + 10


b. Tweet about it + 5


c. Post on Facebook + 5


d. Promote it on your sidebar + 3


e. Add up all your entries + 2


Make sure to add the links of your extra entries in the comments section so that I can visit them and let Noey know. She's picking the winner, as always. Don't forget to come visit her HERE.


This giveaway is International (as always).


And will end on December 31, 2010.


So? What are you waiting for?


Best of luck, dear readers! Spread the word.


Sincerely,
Kate Evangelista

Superstitions Connected with Actors and Actresses

The theater has a large body of time-honored superstitions than any other branch of the arts, and actors and actresses are renowned for their often obsessive preoccupation with protecting their luck. Many leading performers insist on following the same routine before each appearance and carry charms of various kinds; they may also refuse to change any detail of their costume if they have had success while wearing it. Zsa Zsa Gabor, for instance, though famous for her fabulous jewels and costumes, always wears a worthless child's ring for good luck.


Whistling in a dressing room is regarded as particularly unwise and the offender may well be asked to leave the room, turn around three times, and spit or swear before he or she can beg to be allowed back in. This taboo my well date from the days when changes in scenery were signaled by whistles, rather than by tannoy. Similarly, wishing an actor good luck before going on stage is considered to invite disaster by tempting fate, hence the tradition of telling an actor to "break a leg" (presumably because worse mishaps than this are unlikely).


Certain plays are said to be especially unlucky, usually because they incorporate supernatural scenes or references to witchcraft. Actors are almost universally reluctant to quote from or even to name Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, preferring to refer to it instead as the "Scottish play." With its ghosts and witches' invocation of supernatural spirits, the play is notorious for the long list of serious (even fatal) accidents that have befallen productions over the years. Incidents blamed on the tragedy have included the destruction by fire of the theater in Lisbon where it was staged in 1964 and a spate of accidents and illnesses that plagued a production presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967. The play's unlucky reputation was hardly relieved by the once widespread practice of presenting it as a means of boosting receipts in otherwise unsuccessful repertory seasons. Similar fears surround the pantomimes of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Babes in the Wood, and Bluebeard, all of which also have undesirable reputations.


The color green has particularly strong associations with ill fortune in the theater and many performers refuse to wear it (a particular problem in the case of works featuring Robin Hood in his Lincoln green). Casts have even been known to return scripts bound in this color. This mistrust may date back to the days when by convention a green carpet was laid down when a tragedy was to be performed, or else to the use of limelight, which cast a greenish glow over the stage and tended to make actors dressed in green invisible to the audience.


Other taboos connected with the theater include:

1. Prohibitions on the use of real flowers, drinks and jewelry on stage.

2. Never allowing peacock feathers to enter the theater (or, in the USA, a picture of a peacock or ostrich).

3. Never setting candles in groups of three either in the dressing room or on the stage.

4. Never allowing performers to be presented with bouquets at the stage door before the play has begun.

5. Never wearing blue or yellow (which has the power to make performers forget their lines).

6. Never dropping a comb or spilling a make-up box (which must never be tidied up).

7. Never looking in another performer's mirror while he or she is putting on their make-up.

8. Never putting one's shoes on a chair in the dressing room.

9. Never hanging pictures in dressing rooms.

10. Never using yellow for stage curtains.

11. Never siting a peephole to view the audience anywhere but in the middle of the curtain.

12. Never allowing knitting in the wings (a superstition associated with the magic of knots).

12. Never opening a new show on a Friday.

13. Never speaking the final line of the script before the first night.


The presence of a cross-eyed person backstage is considered ominous, and a black cat crossing the acting area similarly warns of ill luck. A good dress rehearsal is also widely considered a bad omen (probably for the very good reason that it may promote a false sense of security). Picking up a threat of cotton from the dressing room floor and finding that it will go all the way round one's finger without breaking is said to be good luck among performers and a sign that a contract is in the offing. Other welcome events include an actor's shoes squeaking on his first entrance, discarded shoes landing flat on their soles, finding that one has been given a part that calls for the wearing of a wig, and the first ticket for a production being bought by a relatively elderly man or woman. Somewhat perversely, falling over during the course of a performance is said to bring a production good fortune (as long as it does not happen on a first entrance, in which case the performer is fated to forget his lines). One Continental superstition, incidentally, suggests that lines can e learned more easily if the actor or actress sleeps with the script under his or her pillow.

Blogger Interview: The Snappy Dragon



About the Blog:

The Snappy Dragon lives in a cave somewhere off the coast of a pretty island. Frequents old baroque castles as haunts as well, and counts the Loch Ness Monster as a trusted confidante.

An eco-kid who writes about books, academic stuff, scientific stuff, poetry, things related to reading, things related to writing, books turned to movies, books turned to TV shows, and all things bookish.

Remember, refreshingly intelligent opinions come free, "snappy" retorts and witty quips too, it's standard operating procedure of course!

Comments are encouraged! Put your voice into the written word as well and earn your two cents.

About the Blogger:

Sri would describe herself as someone who is "Human, thinks and talks, sometimes way too much of both!" and as a writer, poet, and psychoanalyst first and foremost. Sri is an Honors student at Kent State University and a Psychology & English double major. She plans on a career in the field of Cognitive Neuropsychology as a researcher and professor. She's been previously published in Exhalations Art Magazine and the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology, and is a winner of the Perryman Writing Award. Sri is currently finishing a novel, and you can find her here too: http://greenologymag.com, as a blogger/writer/contributor. In her rare moments of free time Sri enjoys reading novels & poetry, writing novels & poetry, hanging out with friends, watching "Friends," black and white photography, black and white films, travel, and indulging in every opportunity to shop. She's also on Twitter, which she uses to keep people posted on new posts and book reviews on her blog, follow her @TheSnappyDragon and @Sri_Siddhi :-)



Interview:

1. How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging since June 8th, 2010 – so I’m still a new kid on the block J

2. Why did you decide to blog?

I decided to blog because I have always enjoyed reading and writing, and as someone who wants to live and breathe these processes through my own personal and career goals, I thought it would be rewarding to create and blog; because it’s important to experience all avenues of reading and writing to truly understand the art. I also enjoy reading blogs in general as well, and applied to be a student blogger representative for my university so I thought it would be a good way to learn the ropes!

3. What books do you blog about and why?

I blog about any type of book and any book that piques my fancy! I can’t choose a particular favorite genre, so my blog reflects that eclectic nature. In turn, I find that my potpourri of book reviews tends to garner the interest of a vast and diverse audience.

4. What memes can be found on your blog?

I have two prominent memes on my blog, the first is for my book reviews which I call “Read is the New Black,” and the second is just for my musings and interesting things I find and want to share with my readers, titled “Random Rant.” I also have the meme “Movie Rant” for my film reviews and thoughts, as well as the meme “Pulse Point” for current themes in culture I’d like to discuss, such as fashion, trends, music genres, or literature. I also like to routinely do posts relating to psychology and eco-awareness two areas of interest near and dear to me, since I’m a student and a contributor for Greenology Magazine.

5. What is your review style like?

My review style is definitely narrative, rather than just focusing on the aesthetic qualities of the book’s cover and its physical features. I tend to write reviews like an article, starting and ending with an attention grabber. I aim to write about how the book affected me, and interesting symbols or themes I found. I also love including my own character analysis, because chances are if I’m reviewing the book, I’m passionate about it, and if I’m passionate about it I really related to and could put myself in the place of the characters. I believe that’s the true mark of any great read. Authors have definitely appreciated my detailed response to their novels! I also add in quotes from my favorite sections to give my readers a taste of the book. I tend to often relate my reviews to a theme relevant to a larger audience in a sense that focuses on current societal events as well.

To see links to my book reviews, and my book review policy on my blog The Snappy Dragon, I invite you to please visit the link below to learn more:

http://snapdragonsun.blogspot.com/p/snappy-dragons-book-review-policy.html

Thank you!


6. If you can describe your blog in one word, what would it be and why?

Thoughtful. I chose this word because I always follow my personal mantra “I blog for a reason, so I post with a purpose.”

By this, I mean that I started my blog for a reason: to connect and communicate my passion for literature related matters with other such people, and so my posts should contribute to this purpose in some way. Otherwise it’s frivolous, and can dim the worth of the rest of your blog and drag it down.

It is easy to get caught up in the numbers game: how many followers you have, how many blogs there are out there, how will you ever be unique and get noticed? It’s hard not to be discouraged, and though I’m still new at the game, I’ve seen how special it can be when even just one person (even if it is a friend) takes the time to thoughtfully appreciate a well-thought out post on your part. Because remember people can always be reading, even if they’re not commenting. The key to getting comments is to write something worth getting comments on. Something not just for the sake of posting and getting your two cents out there like the boisterous pompous person who can’t ever shut up. But something stimulating, something you care about - because that shows through in your writing and then your reader will care that you care.

7. What advice can you give other bloggers about blogging?

I would definitely advise using images in your blog posts, I always try to include a picture of the cover for the book I’m reviewing, and if I’m blogging about something else I put in a graphic, because it invokes interest and gives your page more depth. There are plenty of legal resources such as picapp.com, and you can always site the source in parentheses underneath the image too.

8. What kind of promotion techniques do you use to get followers?

Well, first off, as I said previously, it’s definitely important not to get caught up in the follower count, just make sure you’re saying something with a reason and the readers will follow J

Aside from that, I always make sure to respond to a person’s comment on my post so that they can see that I’m not simply posting to get comments, but that I’m interested in a “thoughtful” exchange of ideas. It also shows that I’m respecting the time they took to read and respond to my post, by returning the favor and reading, responding, and thanking them for their comments. It’s always important to show you appreciate your readership and cultivate this rapport; no one wants to feel like they’re typing to themselves!

I’m a firm believer in social networking, it really is not so overwhelming now that it’s easy to sync everything to update the minute you click “publish post” on your blog! Some of the outlets I use to publish news about my blog are Twitter (@TheSnappyDragon and @Sri_Siddhi), The Snappy Dragon’s Facebook fan page, Networked Blogs, and Technorati, which is a blog directory. I’ve connected to a lot of really inspiring bloggers and writers, and like-minded people this way as well. It’s a great community for people who take books and blogging seriously! I also use SNSAnalytics, TweetDeck, and HootSuite which connect to my Twitter accounts so that I can set automatic updates for my blog posts. I also joined several blog networks to connect with other bloggers, book bloggers, authors, and writers. These include, YALITCHAT.org, The Ya Blogosphere, 20 Something Bloggers, and of course, Book Blogs where I “met” Kate!

9. If there was something you’d want your readers to take away from reading your blog, what would it be?

I hope that they’ll learn something new and find something interesting they haven’t read or heard about before J

10. What can readers look forward to from your blog in the future?

I’ve been writing creatively for a long time now, and have completed my first manuscript for my first novel, a work that took me three years to finish. I’m also taking a poetry class in the spring semester at my university to finer tune my writing. So a lot of my posts are going to be about various parts of the writing and publishing process, books and book reviews of course, more eco friendly posts, and a lot of reflection on my own writing that I hope my readers can give me feedback on. Since I’m a psychology and English major, I also enjoy posting articles about research that relates to the work I’m doing and learning about. I’ll stay true to the diverse types of posting I do for my varied audience and I hope they’ll enjoy the journey along with me on my reading and writing adventures!

Blogger Remarks:

I met Sri on Book Blogs. I posted my customary welcome on her comments section when she first joined, and when I visited her blog, I thought to myself that I needed to feature her on the Blogger Interview series. There are so many fascinating bloggers out there, that's why I do this. So, Sri, thank you for giving me your time and answering my questions. And, dear reader, please take the time to say hello to Sri at The Snappy Dragon: http://snapdragonsun.blogspot.com/

Drama Queens with Love Scenes Giveaway

Dear readers, the fantastic author Kevin Klehr is giving away a copy of his novel Drama Queens with Love Scenes. I believe that it's a great read to add to your To Read List for the coming New Year.


Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They're not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

They are soon drawn into the world of theatre - Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world. Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro. Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.



To Enter:


1. Name


2. Email


All in the comments section.


So, what are you waiting for? Don't pass up this chance to read this amazing novel.

Jitters Giveaway Winners!

Dear readers, the Jitters Giveaway has come to a close and I must say that it is a resounding success. Out of the sixteen entries, my favorite friend, Noey, has picked five lucky winners. 



So, without further ado, let's announce the winners, shall we? Congratulations to:


1. Jessica Rabbit

2. Caius Caligula

3. iamjenai

4. Stacie Williams

5. PoCoKat

Please winners, remember to thank Adele Park (author of the fantastic audio book Jitters) for giving away 5 copies of her audio book to five lucky Reads, Reviews, Recommends readers. I will be sending you guys an email to get your particulars as soon as possible. 

The Drama Queen giveaway will be posted in just a bit, so stay tuned to learn how you can win a copy, dear reader. :)

Author Interview: Kevin Klehr


Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They're not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

They are soon drawn into the world of theatre - Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world. Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro. Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.




About the Author:

Kevin has a background in acting, fringe theatre and video production, which have helped shape the characters and situations in this novel. His filmmaking hobby has also helped to create the YouTube book trailer, with the help of some talented actors. Unlike his characters, though, he is definitely not dead and hopes to never see an angel in the near future.

Interview:

1. When did you decide to start writing?

About ten years ago I started writing a fantasy novel on Thursday nights, as that was the only free time I had (My partner, Warren, had started playing tennis on those nights). It was handwritten in a journal and called Staging Life. I had written about five chapters when a friend bought me a 'How to Write' book for my birthday. (As an aside, writing was a passion of mine as a kid, so rediscovering it as a hobby in my 30s was a blessing)

The first paragraph of this How To book clearly told me that if I was writing without my plot being clearly laid out, to stop right away! I made a chapter by chapter story outline, but this totally killed the creative process. The journal was then left in the bottom drawer for years.

2. What is your genre and why did you decide to write a novel in it?

When I began I didn't think about genre. I just had in mind a story where dead people confront the things that they didn't reconcile in life through theatre. Fortunately I ditched that storyline. In the end I'd call it a Romantic Comic Fantasy.

3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?

Yes and no. At first it was a novella but my assessor wanted me to extend it into a novel. She had a few suggestions but they were just padding. Then I realised that a whole back story existed that was yet to be told. I finally got it to over 60,000 words (one draft is well over that but that version has been ditched). It's still not large, but it tells the story without waffling on.

4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?

I like to write with a scented candle burning. Preferably orange.

5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?

Fun. It's what its meant to be. A quick enjoyable read.

6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?

The original title, Staging Life, was hated by my assessor. She was right. I had various versions of the final title written in the back of my writer's journal when finally the obvious title that explains the story hit me - Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?

A fun read. Nothing serious. Just a farcical adventure to enjoy.

8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.

I had many publishers telling me that they loved my writing style, but as this novel does not fit within a marketing genre, it would be hard to sell.

One publisher was interested in my book. When I looked over the contract, one thing that stood out was my lack of control over my own copyright. I've worked in broadcast media, so copyright law is something I know a lot about. In this contract, not only did they want exclusive world rights, they also wanted me to write to them and seek their permission if I wanted to write anything in the future. Plus, only they would have the right to end the contract, even if I desperately wanted to. A lawyer pointed out how their payment of royalties was far below the industry standard. Once I asked this publisher a few questions, they dropped me straight away.

Then the self-publishing model that doesn't hurt your wallet became available. It was too good to pass up.

9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?

There's never been a greater time to get your work in the public domain. But before you put it out there, leave it in a drawer for two to three months, then revise. Also, be prepared to market yourself, it's an ongoing job.

Blogger Remarks:

I would like to thank Kevin for taking the time to answer my questions for this Author Interview series. It's an honor having him participate. As a treat, he is giving away a copy of Drama Queens with Love Scenes to one lucky Reads, Reviews, Recommends reader. I will post more about this giveaway tomorrow. So, stay tuned if you want to enter the giveaway. If you want to know more about Kevin, you can visit his website at: http://www.gadigal.org.au/kooriradio/BroadcasterProfileClient.aspx?Id=3

Thanksgiving Giveaway Winners

The results are in, dear readers! At the beginning, I was nervous about the giveaway. I thought no one would like the figurines. But, I was proven very wrong. The amount of entries amazed me. Thank you so much to all those who took the time to leave a comment for this giveaway. And, as with all my personal giveaways, my awesome friend Noey from Her Name Is Noelle picks out the lucky winners. We have a great cross-section this time around. She really made sure that the winners come from all over, which I am so thankful for. Please take the time to visit her site by clicking on the link after her name. It's in red.




Now, without further ado, the winners of this year's Thanksgiving Giveaway:




Pinkstuff28


Freya


Vickie


Kristen H


Jennifer


Congratulations to the winners! And for those who didn't win, stay tuned. I'm giving away an Eclipse 2011 calendar.


So, winners, I will be sending out emails to get your particulars soon.

Superstitions Connected with Acorns

The fruit of the oak, which has been associated with a variety of superstitious beliefs since time immemorial. The oak was venerated by the Druids in pre-Christian times and was similarly revered by many early civilizations, including ancient Rome (the goddess Diana was often depicted wearing a string of acorns).




The Norse legend of that Thor sheltered from a thunderstorm under an oak tree has led to the belief that having an acorn on a windowsill will prevent a house from being struck by lightning, hence the popularity of window blind pulls decorated as acorns.




In Britain, one old tradition has it that if a woman carries an acorn on her person, it will delay the ageing process and keep her forever young (a reference to the longevity of the oak tree itself).




Young lovers, meanwhile, may place two acorns, representing themselves and the object of their affection. in a bowl of water in order to predict whether they have a future together: if the acorns drift towards each other, they are certain to marry.




Back in the seventeenth century, a juice extracted from acorns was administered to habitual drunkards to cure them of their condition or else to give them the strength to resist another bout of drinking.

Blogger Interview: Bibliophile Brouhaha


About the Blog:

bibliophile brouhaha is about 1) books; 2) news related to books; and 3) any fun items that relate to books or writing in general which I might have an obsession with at the moment. For instance, in the last couple of days, I've posted one review, one piece of news related to the book selling industry, and I just found the neatest Edgar Allen Poe candle that I am thinking about posting. Inspiration is everywhere! As for the genres I read and review, you will find a little of everything: adult fiction, YA fiction, paranormal, etc. I haven't posted yet on any nonfiction, but I do read that, too. Eventually, it will pop up. I currently am very into both adult and YA paranormal books, but hey, who isn't right now?

About the Blogger:

Linds from bibliophile brouhaha is a bona fide news junkie and book lover. She grew up and still lives in the Pittsburgh area, but she she also has lived in Colorado, New Mexico and Ohio. She's a former news reporter, but now works in promotions and recruitment. Her burning ambition is to be a librarian, but higher education is expensive! Imagination has been her best friend since she started thinking, and books have been her partners-in-crime since age seven. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at bibliophile.brouhaha@gmail.com.



Interview:


How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging since mid-October. Yep, I’m a newbie, but I love it so much already! My fiancĂ© is starting to feel neglected. At that, I merely point to the TV – 9 times out of 10, there’s sports on! Hey, we live in Pittsburgh – people here are slightly obsessed with their sports!

Why did you decide to blog?

bibliophile brouhaha wasn’t a bolt of lightning or a major brainchild of mine or anything. In fact, it was more of a no brainer. Like most book bloggers out there, I read. A lot. Incessantly. I also talk a lot about what I read, and unfortunately, I probably talk to people who couldn't care less (I am one of those people who talks to perfect strangers in restaurants). I didn't feel like I was getting what I needed out of the one book club I belong to, so I started perusing the internet. I realized there is a whole community of book bloggers whom I can converse with - voila! bibliophile brouhaha was born!

What books do you blog about and why?

I read a little bit of everything, but I L.O.V.E. young adult literature. There’s something transcendental about YA. When you ‘grow up’, you start looking around you, at your environment, and there rarely is the same emphasis or opportunity for self-improvement and personal development that you have when you are in high school and college. Well, there is, but they call it ‘professional development’, and it’s simply not the same. People start forgetting to reach inwards and bring out the best of themselves. I love that aspect of YA – there is this sense that you are growing as a person right along with the protagonist. It’s not that this doesn’t happen in adult literature, but you don’t see it as much – there isn’t this “never say die” attitude. In adult lit, there is the same old drama, but the stakes are higher, and sometimes there is this defeatist attitude, this way of thinking that life has you beat sometimes.

I also blog about paranormal books, both YA and adult. I have loved anything ghost/vampire/witch related since I was very small. The books of Betty Ren Wright, the Nina Tanleven series, these were favorites of mine! In fact, a big factor that finally made me start blogging was my obsession with Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series – my vey first post was about it! I’m a Vlad girl myself.

What memes can be found on your blog?

I’ve just started, but I take part in Book Blogger Hop, Follow Friday, In My Mailbox and Waiting on Wednesdays. It’s been a great way to meet other bloggers, and I’ve found some great books to read, too!

What is your review style like?

Good question! Like my taste in books, my review style is variable. It usually reflects the tone of the book I’ve reviewed. If the book’s tone was serious in nature, then that’s the way my review will be. If the book is snarky, my review will be, too. I post the publishing info, the synopsis, and then give my review and usually add some favorite quotes. I always give a grade, too, although I think I would like to develop a unique rating system. In fact, I have a master plan to redo the entire look of my blog!

If you can describe your blog in one word, what would it be and why?

Informative. I’m an infojunkie, so I tend to put anything on my blog that I find interesting. Industry news, book news, film adaptation news . . . you name it, and I probably have a news alert for it! I get so excited when I hear or read something new about the things I love. It’s why my blog has the name it does – I want it to be a place of noisy interaction and excitement for book lovers.

What advice can you give other bloggers about blogging?

Don’t just blog to say you blog. Blog because you love what you are blogging about. I happen to love reading, writing and editing. I am not saying that I am super talented at it, but it’s something I love to do, and so blogging about books is a natural for me. Sincere interest shines through and people will see that. If you love what you do, then I believe that any secondary goals will follow.

Another piece of advice - I feel a personal responsibility to my followers to post pertinent and timely information. I appreciate that they think what I have to say is worth making a note of in their blog readers. So, I am going to do my best to make sure that I give them a reason to look at my blog on a regular basis. This is just me, but since I used to be a reporter, I approach blogging with a journalist’s mentality.

What kind of promotion techniques do you use to get followers?

I am showing my newbie stripes here, but I haven’t really done anything yet other than participate in weekly memes. I’ve been having a good time getting to know the community, though. It’s only been two weeks, but I think most of my followers have come through participating in these. I would like to maybe run a giveaway soon, though. I just got to figure out how, haha! Where does everyone get these wonderful free books to give away? My extra cash goes to gas, library fines (whoops), and school loans!

If there was something you’d want your readers to take away from reading your blog, what would it be?

I want them to know that reading is a lifelong passion of mine, and I love to share it! I will always do to my best to give them my honest opinion and make my blog a fun place to visit.

What can readers look forward to from your blog in the future?

More reviews! I see that as the most important part of my blog. My goal is to read at least two books and post reviews on them every week. After all, it’s why I started doing this in the first place.

Blogger Remarks:

I'd like to thank Linds for giving me a chance to interview her. You have to hop on to her blog, dear reader. I love the way she reviews books. Really insightful. I can only dream that one day she reviews mine when they come out. To visit her blog, click on this link: http://bibliophilebrouhaha.blogspot.com/
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