Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween is coming up. Did you know...

Hello, I have a guest today. I'd like to welcome and thank Margo Smith for her information about Halloween.

Trivia In Time For Halloween

Do you know all about the holiday where we dress up and get candy just for the asking? There are all kinds of myths about how the holiday got started. Clear away the cobwebs and get straight down to the facts about this day that has been a spooky tradition for so long: Halloween.

Q. Why do we use orange and black as colors for this holiday?
A. Autumn is a time of change, and orange represents the harvest of crops during this season, while black stands for death.

Q. Do you know why black cats are synonymous with Halloween?
A. Once they were thought to be a witch’s familiar, or assistant, and so they came to be associated with this day of ghosts, ghouls and black magic.

Q. Did you know that nearly half of Americans believe in real-life ghosts? It’s true!
A. The exact percentage is 48.

Q. Who is the Halloween-type character more filmed than any other?
A. Dracula

Q. What is the biggest pumpkin ever grown?
A. It is a whopping 1,469 pound gourd grown in Pennsylvania in 2005.

Q. How much water is in a pumpkin?
A. 90%
Q. What is the most money ever granted for having the largest pumpkin?
A. $25,000

Q. How many Americans decorate for this holiday?
A. 86%

Q. How much do Americans spend on Halloween candy every year?
A. 2 billion or more

Q. Do you know the very first penny candy to come pre-wrapped in the U.S.?
A. Tootsie Rolls

By total number of sales, do you know which Halloween treats are most popular?
1.    Tootsie Rolls
2.    Hershey's Milk Chocolate
3.    Nestle Crunch
4.    Nerds
5.    Hot Tamales
6.    Candy Corn
7.    Snickers
8.    Baby Ruth
9.    Reese's Pieces
10.    Almond Joy
11.    Milky Way
12.    Razzles
13.    Life Savers
14.    M & M's
15.    Sour Patch

Non-foods or Non-sugar items:
1.    Halloween-themed stickers
2.    Temporary tattoos
3.    Pencils
4.    Bubbles in tiny bottles
5.    Individual-sized containers of playdoh
6.    Noisemakers
7.    Pretzels
8.    Sugar-free gum

Today the #1 seller is Snickers, but Tootsie Rolls are number 1 because they have been around longer.

Now you know more about this tasty and ghostly holiday. Did any of them surprise you?
Enjoy these facts as you share them with friends and family as Halloween approaches this year.

About the Author
Margo Smith graduated with a B.S. degree from BYU. Working through college and being in the corporate world give her a great deal to say about subjects as diverse as small business, online classes and jogging.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another list

Examples of books published or written 100 years ago, 200 years ago, and so forth...

1910: Arnold Bennett's novel Clayhanger
1810: Walter Scott publishes The Lady of the Lake
1710: Cotton Mather publishes his Essays to do Good
1610: (1610-1611) William Shakespeare's play The Tempest
1510:1510–1514: Illustrations de Gaule et singularitez de Troye (Jean Lemaire de Belges)
c.1410: Manuale di arte del combattimento del XV secolo (Fiore dei Liberi) Discusses instructions of the knight's fighting skills and techniques
1310: Isaac Israeli's Yesod Olam (Analysis of the astronomical and historical questions connected with the Jewish calendar)
1210: Gottfried Von Strassburg writes his version of Tristan and Isolde
c.110 Roman historian Tacitus writes his Annals and Histories
c.10 Ovid's poetry collection Tristia is dated to 9-12 AD.

Do you know of others written during these years, or what do you know of these?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A warm welcome to author Clare Dargin

Clare Dargin is an author of science fiction and science fiction romance books.  Her newest work “Speculative Sky” is available from Red Rose Publishing.

What inspired you to write this book?

Well, ever since I was a child I always wanted to be a writer.  It was a dream of mine to be published and to write stories that everyone could enjoy.  Speculative Sky was created because I’ve always had a fascination with stories about Extra-Terrestrial Life and S.E.T.I. and I wanted to integrate such a story with a female character as a strong and intelligent lead.  

Do you have a specific writing style? 
Yes I do but I am not sure what to call it.  When people read my work I want them to feel as if they are right there in the midst of it all.  I want them to be able to hear, taste, smell and see the action as if it is happening all around them.  I also tend to write tight stories with quick pacing.  It's what I like to read and consequently how I write. 

What is the name of your latest book?  And how did you come up with the title?
To be honest I’ve always been attracted and fascinated by the abstract and the symbolic.  I wanted the title to be symbolic of what April Mullen, the main character, has to deal with as an Astronomer and all that came with her assignment. 

What is Speculative Sky about?
It is about a woman who takes a chance and leaves for an assignment on a science colony far away from Earth.  As an astronomer it is her job to monitor the stars at night and to record her findings.  Nothing more than that.  But when she arrives, she notices that her new home is a bit odd, and that though there is evidence of life out there… they don’t want her to either acknowledge it or do anything about it.  She of course finds this troubling.

What books have most influenced your life most?

To be honest, in fiction category, it would have to be the old star wars books that came out in the eighties after Return of the Jedi.  The expanded universe books taught me more about atmospheric and expanded universe development then any book I know!  I read them over and over again and learned about non-human creature development, planetary science fiction and description of space travel and not to mention how to write a cool leading man.  I still read them! 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Douglas Preston and/or Lincoln Child.  They write incredibly compelling books of which I generally can't put down.

What book are you reading now? 
To be honest and I am almost finished with “Book of the Dead” with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  I'll be going through their back list very soon in order to get caught up.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Last night I was thinking about the Friday House about D. K. Gaston and how it's a compelling story about assassins who have no memory of their being programmed and stuff.  I think it's cool.   And several books on the military scifi romance front that I have recently heard about.  I write in a tiny subgenre so it's nice to see what other authors are doing in it.  That way I don't get lonely! 

What are your current projects?
Presently I am finishing up the final editing for “Ice and Peace” the sequel to Cold Warriors.  As well as having another expanded universe book in the works.  Not to mention, two futuristic romances that are completely different from my military fiction.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Motown Creative Writers Group-- they helped get on the road to being published.  And not to mention the many groups in the Romance community.  They really pointed me in the right direction.  I'm grateful for that.

Do you see writing as a career?
Yes!  One day I hope to do it full time.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yeah that's why I have to hurry up and get it out of my hands cause I keep changing it!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child my father use to encourage it.  I use to write stories for my family and give it to them and they would say “Maybe one day you could get this published!”  I was like five.... and then when I was in middle school I found out that S. E. Hinton had been published at sixteen-- I became truly determined then.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yea, getting through the first draft!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Just get the first draft down on paper and don't be afraid to make stupid mistakes and have dumb lines on paper cause it's the first draft and you are allowing the characters to come alive.  Later on you can fix and micro manage but don't try to do it the first time through cause it will stifle your creativity.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don't give up on being published!  Try every avenue!  There is away for you!

*Wonderful advice, Clare! Thanks so much for being my guest here. I like the sound of your work and wish you well with it! Sci-fi is such a great genre.

Here's an excerpt from Speculative Sky:

“I’m sure that’s the case but how can I not be excited over this? It’s the find of a lifetime,” she said reveling in the thought of making contact with extra-terrestrial life.

“You don‘t have to try to impress us. Just do you your work and you‘ll be fine.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you don’t worry about it. There is plenty of research to be done. You could spend your entire lifetime studying the Jugis Star Cluster alone.”

“Haven’t you ever looked up in the sky and wondered if there was anyone else out there?”

“Of course I have. And if anyone back home asks, tell them it’s just us,” he said finishing off his drink.

 Buy it here

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blogfest 2010 winner

Thanks so much, everyone who entered the contest! You all left the loveliest comments, and I wished I could give a prize to everyone who dropped by. I drew a name randomly and would like to congratulate Shellie, the winner of my paranormal short story collection, "Deadly Karma."

Also, thanks again to Cinnamon, who arranged this fun blog fest. Take care, everyone! -warm regards, Laura

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blogfest 2010

I'm happy to participate in this big event, Blogfest 2010. Thanks to its host, Cinnamon Brown, at A Journey of Books. There are so many great giveaways at the various participating blogs, and you can find them all there! You'll also find a link to a website where you can keep track of your progress and be entered to win a huge giveaway.

For my giveaway, I have an electronic copy (pdf) of my paranormal short story collection, "Deadly Karma."

Here's a blurb:
Deadly Karma: Three Speculative Tales (three short paranormal stories, electronic format)

Available with Midnight Showcase:

By Laura Hogg

Karma: Karma’s Time Machine: A mean college girl learns a lesson she’ll never forget when she stumbles upon another dimension.

The Deadly 50/50: She is neither good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell. Now it’s time to take a stand. Given a task that sends her to the gates of hell, success seems possible; then she sees who the gatekeeper is.

Karma: The Blue Dress: One woman must make a sacrifice to insure the future. Another must give up something to save the past. What happens when the 21st century meets the 19th for a dual tale across time?

To enter, become a blog follower and leave a comment saying so. If you're already a follower, leave a comment letting me know! I will use random.org to draw a winner among those who commented on this blog post. Please be sure to leave your email so I have a way to contact you if you're the winner.

I will announce the winner after Blogfest is over. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email. If I don't hear back from the winner, I'll draw another name.

Thank you very much for dropping by! Good luck. :)

Welcome to author Nan Reinhardt

Hello, Nan, and congratulations on your book release, Christmas with You. Giveaway contest:  This post is part of a virtual book t...