Happy Holidays

Winter is upon us and there is nothing like a cozy blanket, a warm drink, and a good book to help you survive.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year

The New Year is upon us and many people are making their New Year Resolutions. Are you one of them?

What is it you would like to change about yourself or you hope to do better in the New Year?

You say you'd like to lose weight. That is something you have some control over. It requires you to stop eating the stuff you really love, (ice cream, candy, bread products) and exercise.

I have made it my mission to help you with the exercise part. (I had thought about helping with getting rid of the ice cream and candy, too, but then I thought of the mess my postal carrier would have to deliver. Ooey gooey ice cream! Moldy bread! CANDY!!!) I digress.  

Exercise is an important part of living. When we were young we ran down the streets, we biked to our friends, we danced in basements to the latest beats. We had fun and we were fit. Then we learned to drive cars and worked at jobs that kept us stationary. It is time to get out the hula hoop and jump rope (if your bladder can handle it). If you don't currently walk, get out everyday and walk. Start with a short walk. If around the block is too far to begin with, walk to the corner and back again. Do not park in the spaces too close to the store. Park further away and walk to the doors. This will improve your health in more ways than one. You will be walking and getting some of that exercise component in and you will also be saving your blood pressure from having to deal with the others that are trying to get all the "prime" spaces.

My favorite way to lose exercise is to get up and dance. You may not want to go out clubbing every weekend, but you can dance everyday. Even at work. If you have a device which will play music, such as a smart phone of some type or ipod (sorry, I'm not up on the latest and greatest technology) you can program songs in through Pandora or record music to take with you.

You should get off your duff at least once an hour and dance. If you are at work and the work space is not conducive or dance friendly, you may have to use the break room or even the rest rooms. Get up, turn on your music and dance. You don't need to know any special steps, just move your feet, shake your booty, and wave your arms around in the air. And don't forget to jump! You don't have to be graceful or make it look pretty. You're not about to get a spot on "So You Think You Can Dance" or "Dancing With the Stars" just have fun with it. (You may want to also carry your deodorant in case you need a touch up before going back to your station.)   

Taking special dance classes may be fun, but a Zumba class or step aerobics will not get your blood flowing on an hourly basis. (When you have good blood flow to your brain, your brain will work better and you will be a better employee.)

Below I have compiled a brief list of some of my favorite dance tunes. It is a good place to start if you are wondering what music is best for you. I am always looking for more dance music, please leave me your favorites in the comment section. Also feel free to FB.


Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston
Bob Segar - Old Time Rock and Roll
Dan Seals - I Want to Bop With You Baby
Mary Chapin Carpenter - Down at the Twist and Shout
Chubby Checker - Let's Do the Twist
Freddie & the Dreamers - Do the Freddie
The Kingsmen - Louie Louie
The Ventures - Wipe Out
Billy Joel - Still Rock and Roll to Me
John Cougar - Hurts So Good
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Bad Reputation
Aerosmith - Walk This Way
Jerry Lee Lewis - Peggy Sue
Jerry Lee Lewis - Whole Lot of Shaking Going On
Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls of Fire
Jerry Lee Lewis - Wild One
Trace Adkins - Hot Mama
Trace Adkins - Honky Tonk Badonkadonk
Jo Dee Messina - I'm Alright
Pam Tillis - Queen of Denial
Dolly Parton - Romeo
Brooks & Dunn - Boot Scootin' Boogie
Alabama - Dixieland Delight
Dropkick Murphys - Anything by Them!!!

In the course of writing this I had hoped to be a lazy bum and not practice what I am preaching, however, I have instead decided to make this a challenge. I am not divulging my weight, but I will keep you updated on anything that drops off. I hope you will do the same.

Even if you are at your ideal weight, I am issuing the dance challenge. It will be fun to dance and get your blood flowing.

Now, please excuse me, I hear the Dropkick Murphys and Tessie calling to me.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers



In September of 1990 I had my fifth child, the baby was perfect, but my future looked bleak. My ex, became my ex the week before I gave birth. My son was my second child in two years. My hormones were going crazy.

For months my ex put me through an emotional wringer. He had promised to spend Thanksgiving Day with the children, then never called. The next day my emotions overwhelmed me. I realized I could not remain on the roller coaster ride I had allowed my ex to turn my life into.

That night I went to my first Al-Anon meeting. Listening to other people describe the scenarios I had lived through, I realized I was not crazy. I had thought I was totally going bonkers! I felt infinitely better, but I knew by midweek I would be buried under stress and self-doubt. I needed to re-enforce the message.

I lived in a very small, rural town. I didn’t own a car. The daily Al-Non meetings were forty-five minutes away. A woman at the meeting suggested I attend AA meetings and apply the principals of Al-Anon every time someone said "One day without a drink." I was to think "One day without a drunk."

Starting on Monday and every day, after Sesame Street, I packed the two babies into the double stroller and walked to the AA meetings. My babies and I were welcomed with open arms. I remained quiet at the meetings, absorbing the strength the program gives to those who seek it.

Christmas Eve morning, my ex was at my door. He was drunk. To get him out of the house without further upsetting the children I walked him downtown, otherwise his girlfriend would pick him up at my house.

I left him waiting for her at the bakery.

The day was sunny, with a blustery wind coming off the snow covered mountains. I was agitated, afraid I would let emotions overwhelm me, I dreaded going home. Then a man from AA stepped out of the Post Office. He looked at my face and offered me a ride home.

He reminded me there are things in life we cannot control, especially the actions of others. My job was to take care of myself and my children. My ex was responsible for his own actions. I could not help him to quit drinking nor could I make him be a good father. He asked if I planned to attend a meeting that night or on Christmas Day. He assured me he would find me a ride if I needed one.

I felt better. The people in AA had been strangers a month earlier, but now they were my friends.

I had a network of people who cared. I felt whole.

I have since relocated to another state, but I will always remember that year. It was the year that I had the worst Thanksgiving and the best Christmas ever.

Material gifts are not what matter, not even to children. It is about caring for others. The stranger who drove me home talked to me when I needed it. I gave my children a happy day instead of moping. I didn’t go to a meeting; instead I invited people who were alone to spend the day with us. Good companions warm the soul like a fire in a hearth on a winter’s day.

The holidays are trying times for many. If you know someone who might be having a difficult time dealing with the holidays, please talk to them. Let them know that they are not alone, even when a person is surrounded by family, they can feel alone. Some people hide their distress behind smiles. Look them in the eyes and you will see the truth. 

When we give the gift of compassion it is the greatest gift of all.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Writer + Editor = Good Business

It is with great sadness that I write this article tonight. I just completed the project from hell and decided to give myself a treat. So I pulled out my NOOK and read a friends self-published novel. There are many wonderful self-pubs, so I am not prejudiced against them. However, I am prejudiced against sloppy writing and editing.

Romance writers are fortunate to have groups in almost every state (courtesy of RWA) where they can go and learn about the craft of writing. Yes, there are people who are naturally adept at telling a good story, but there is so much more to putting the words down on paper than there is to relating a tale. 

Good writing is not easy. You can struggle for hours to come up with the right word, and then you strike that blasted word from your manuscript during the rewrite portion of the creation process. That is what a good writer does when there are words or phrases that don't work, no matter how much they had to struggle to get those words.

In the last few days I have read three indie books. One was a humorous romance, which left me feeling happy I had read it. One was a paranormal I wasn't sure I would enjoy. It was Book Three in a series, and I hadn't read One or Two. The story was strong and only included a line or two about past characters that were still active in Three. The author didn't bog it down with too much back story. It was a wonderfully imaginative story. It was clear both these authors had employed good editors.

The third book was a contemporary romance. It had a good story line, that got lost in bad editing. There were several times I would have thrown the book against the wall, but I was reading on my NOOK and I didn't want to damage it. The author told much more than she showed. There were homophones galore. Major repetition. And the biggest crime of all, at one point the the author used the wrong name for the heroine's son. 

Thanks to Indie publishing, every Tom, Dick, or Harriet who has ever taken an English class is setting up a shingle offering their editorial services. This is where you have to be careful and look at your perspective editor's credentials. Just because someone was an English teacher, it doesn't mean they know how to edit fiction.

Another friend of mine had hired an editor, but once my friend uploaded her book, people started contacting her about all the mistakes. She had to take the book down and correct the problems. She was so embarrassed that anyone had seen the uncorrected version. Not a good way to run a business. It's like owning a restaurant with a top notch chef and serving the food on dirty plates.

A good editor can take a good story and turn it into a superior work of art. A bad editor can take an excellent story and make it unreadable. Choose your editor like you do a new car, check out their safety records and kick the tires. Talk to other authors who have used their services. Read some of the books they have edited. Your career is at stake. There are so many good books out there and you want yours to be one of them.





Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Spirit

The Politicization of Christmas

This time of year I am filled with joy and good cheer. I love the brisk air, the cold nights in which to cuddle under warm blankets, and the joyful expectation of children awaiting a visit from Santa Claus.

However, there is a Grinch to throw a wrench into the works. According to many, retailers are trying to take "Christ out of Christmas" by having their employees wish everyone a "Happy Holiday" rather than say "Merry Christmas". Sorry to tell you, but big business took all religion out of Christmas over half a century ago.

Christmas did not become a federal holiday in the United States until Grant signed it into law on June 28, 1870. 

Turning Christmas into a political issue is nothing new. The Roman's were famous for adopting local Gods and turning them Roman to further ensnare the territories they claimed for the Empire. They adopted and then they adapted. 

Constantine knew the way to solidify his hold on the populace was to give them a God which would unify them, so he chose Christianity. It suited his needs.

The Roman Bishops decided on December 25th as the birth date of Jesus due to a surplus of Pagan holy days. The Church chose to place many high holy days on the same dates as Pagan holidays in order to stamp out the Pagan celebrations and to bring the Pagans into the Church. The Pagan celebrations, however, remain behind, hidden in what is now considered Christian tradition. For example: the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs replaced fertility celebrations, but bunnies and eggs were a big part of the celebration. So while the church holds sunrise masses to celebrate the Resurrection of the Christ, the people slip in their old fertility symbols. The Yule log, mistletoe, and Christmas tree are also 


~*~
A Brief History of December Celebrations

December is a month of religious celebrations. Bodhi Day, Buddha's Enlightenment Day is celebrated on December 8, Hanukkah on December 8-15, the Yule on December 21, as is the Winter Solstice, Christmas Day is December 25, Kwanzaa is December 26.

December 25th is given as as the birthdate of the following Gods: Attis of Greece c1200 BCE, Krishna of India c900 BCE, Dionysus of Greece c500 BCE, Mithra of Persia c1200 BCE, Horus of Egypt c3000 BCE, and Jesus of Nazareth c1 CE (although some sources say it should be c4 CE).

There are other Gods which share the December 25th birthdate, but I couldn't find the years for them. They include Salivahana of Bermuda, Orus of Egypt, Odin of Scandinavia, Crite of Chaldez, Thammuz of Syria, Adad of Assyria, and Beddru of Japan.


~*~

Personal Observation


To be fair to retailers, in the light of all these holy days in December, it makes sense for them to say Happy Holidays and not offend those who do not celebrate Christmas.

However, 82% of all Americans list their religious leanings as Christian. Should retailers be offending 82% of the buying public, the segment which actually does the lion's share of the buying for Christmas? It could bring repercussions the God of big business, Profit, wouldn't like.

When I hear the words Happy Holidays, I see a bunch of adults wearing evening attire and sipping drinks at a staid party. The colors are muted, as are the voices.

Merry Christmas evokes images of brightly colored packages and laughing children ripping them open, hot chocolate and joyful singing, and crowds of people happily shopping and saying nice things to each other. 

Does it really matter if the person bagging your order says "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas"? Isn't it more important that they acknowledge you, smile, and wish you well from their hearts? Anyone can mumble the words by rote. During the December holidays, more than any other, it is important to have friendly communications with others. Christmas can be the happiest of times or the saddest of times. It is important to let others know that they are not alone.

May you find peace and enlightenment. May the blessings of the Yule be upon you. Joyful Kwanzaa. Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas. Enjoy!





Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Christmas Spirit.

(It's the perfect shortie holiday read...sexy, sweet, and sassy all rolled into one. I loved it!  {Penelope's Romance Reviews})

Still Moments Publishing (the wonderful sponsor of The Author's Den: Christmas Blog Hop) is also running a contest. Your comment is your entry into the contest. (Gorgeous handmade jewelry.)





 

Christmas Blog Hop



Join the Still Moments Publishing team for a funChristmas Blog Hop!
When: December 3-7, 2012.
Where: In The Author’s Den -http://stillmomentspub.blogspot.com/

What would Christmas be without Gifts!
Many of our participating authors will be holding a giveaway on their blog. 
Just leave a comment with your name and email, use (at) and (dot) to avoid spammers.

But wait…increase your chances to win!
Everyone who comments on our authors’ blogs will be entered in the Gift Giveaway by Still Moments Publishing. The more SMP author blogs you visit during our Christmas Blog Hop, the more entries you receive.

In the gift bag are three prizes! Each prize consists of a beautiful handmade jewelry piece and a Still Moments Publishing eBook title from our library (winner’s choice).
Draw date: December 10, 2012

SMP Participating Team Members:

December 3rd
Liv Rancourt - http://www.livrancourt.com
Denise Moncrief - www.denisemoncrief.blogspot.com
Maggie Devine - http://maggiedevine.blogspot.ca/

December 4th
Terri Rochenski - www.terrirochenski.blogspot.com
Liberty Blake - http://libertysspells.blogspot.com
Olivia Devereaux - http://kastil.wordpress.com
Holly J. Margaret - http://hollyjmargaret.weebly.com

December 5th
Keri Neal - http://www.kerineal.com/author
Laura Pink - http://notjust9to5.com
Robbi Hess - www.robbihess.com
Darlene Fredette -http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

December 6th
Jennifer M. Eaton - www.jennifermeaton.com
Janelle Lee - www.janellelee.com
Krista Ames - www.kristaames.com

December 7th
W. Lynn Chantale -http://decadentdecisions.wordpress.com/
Dani-Lyn Alexander -http://danilynalexander.com/blog.html
Linda Carroll-Brad - http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com
Nicole Zoltack - http://NicoleZoltack.blogspot.com


Gifts to be Won! 
Still Moments Publishing titles (winner's choice from our eBook library)
and Handmade Jewelry

Beaded Stone Necklace
Created and donated by Taylor's Trinkets & Treats

Hand-Crafted Jewelry Piece #1
(use as a pendent, dangling from your favourite necklace, keychain, and more)
Created and donated by MJ Gauthier
Hand-Crafted Jewelry Piece #2
(use as a pendent, dangling from your favourite necklace, keychain, and more)
Created and donated by MJ Gauthier