Dragons of Challon series

Dragons of Challon series
Dragons of Challon

30 December 2017

Happy Hogmanay -- New Years Scottish Style




Ever heard of Hogmanay?  Well, it is Scotland's New Years celebration.  The celebrating runs longer and has many traditions that find their roots in ancient times.  They echo back to the Twelve Days of Christmas, where you held Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day, and celebrated through Twelfth Night.


My family kept Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for family only.  On Boxing Day, we would get out the sleighs (used to be more snow back then!) and go visiting.  We took gifts to neighbors and friends.  I thought this day more fun.  Riding in the old-fashioned sleighs, and being welcomed into homes for eggnog or warmed cider to shake off the chill, were such wonderful memories.  Sadly, the sleighs haven’t been used for years, as we see fewer and fewer White Christmases.  Also, the family has scattered and finds it harder to come together like we used to.


With the end of Christmas, the celebrations in America basically slow.  Decorations are taken down and stored for another year.  On the other side of the Pond, amazing Hogmanay parties in Scotland are just getting underway, and in some instances lasting over several days.



The Hogmanay name first showed in written records around the early 1600s, but many of the traditions come from a time much older.  Some suggest the name stems from be old Norman French of hoguinan (New Years gift).  Since the Auld Alliance saw France and Scotland sharing trade and cultures it seems reasonable.  A more likely explanation is it could be a variation of Scots Gaelic og maidne (young morning).  Still, the Flemish hoog min dag (great love day) might also be the source.  Whichever, it shows perhaps several cultures developed the holiday along the same lines, and that it wasn't just confined to Scotland.  One has no stronger provable claim to the name than another.
There are many celebrations or simple street festivals, but also you can discover the great, awe-inspiring fire-festivals—of interest to people who love history, but also eye-opening to those unfamiliar with the ancient traditions.  These festivals still practice rites and rituals that go back to Pagan times, maybe thousands of years.  It’s not hard to find concerts, parties, fireworks and balefires, as well offer a wide range of Scottish fare to satisfy your culinary tastes.



First Footing is one of the customs I always enjoyed.  It was considered very unlucky for a redheaded man or women to cross the threshold after the final stroke of midnight.  Not wanting to start the year off on the wrong foot, it was hoped a tall, black-haired, handsome man would arrive at the stroke of twelve.  This leads to a wee bit of mischief, such as picking a likely lad who fits the bill, handing him a bottle of Single Malt, and sticking him outside, to cross back over at the appointed time.  After all, who wouldn't want a tall, handsome, black-haired man to come a calling on the stroke of New Years?

Redding the House is a tradition of a “clean sweep”.  It is easy to understand where this one aims—sweeping the house clear of influence of the departing year, and giving you a fresh start.  You sweep out the house and clean the fireplaces.  Taking out the ashes can see the practice of a scrying skill of Reading the Ashes, foretelling the future much in the manner of reading tea leaves.  You are sweeping away all the negative influences that have held sway through the departing year.  Once that is done, all brooms and brushes are taken outside and burnt.  Keeping old ones invites the negative back in, so you start the year with new hair bushes, mops, small sweeps and brooms.  Once that is done, you use lavender, cedar and juniper branches to purify the house, dragging these over windows and doors to protect the house and seal it away from evil spirits.  Then, you burn them in the fireplace, the final step to purify the chimney.  Thus, you start the New Years all anew.



The bonfires and fire-festival are rooted in Pagan Pictish, Celtic or Norse origins.  As reflected in the burning of the lavender, cedar and juniper clearing the air of negative influences, these fire-festivals are a purifying of the land.  When the fires died and the ashes cooled, they were spread on farmland.  In truth, this potash a fertilizer that helps keep the land arable, promoting good root growth and higher crop production.  As with many ancient Pagan traditions, there is a rite, but also a logical purpose behind it.  A newer celebration, but gaining more and more attention worldwide—is Up Helly Aa in the Shetland Isles.  What an amazing festival!  There is nothing like it!  However, you can still find fire festivals at Stonehaven, Comrie and Biggar, and even Edinburgh has added this element in their Hogmanay celebrations.


Do you sing Auld Lang Syne at New Years without truly understanding the tradition is Scottish?  All over the world every year people sing Robert Burns’ version of the traditional Scottish Air In Edinburg’s Hogmanay, people join hands for what is reputed to be the world's biggest Auld Lang Syne singing.



Another odd tradition is the Saining of the House.  You find this mostly in rural areas, a tradition that involved blessing the house and livestock with holy water from a local stream.  After nearly dying out, you are seeing a revival in recent years.  Not surprising since Annis, the goddess of wells and streams is one of the oldest Pagan deities in Scotland.  You still see her Clootie Wells dotting the landscape, wells dedicated to her honor (where wishing wells come from).  After the house, land and stock are blessed, the females of the house, once more, perform a purifying ritual, of carrying burning juniper branches inside to fill the house with the cleansing smoke.  Notice, the commonality with the Redding the House?  Once the house was filled with smoke, driving out the evil influences, the windows were opened and whisky would be passed around.



These festivals grew in popularity after the banning of Christmas  in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under Oliver Cromwell, Parliament banned Christmas celebrations in 1647.  The ban was lifted after Cromwell's downfall in 1660.  However, in Scotland, the stricter Scottish Presbyterian Church had been discouraging Christmas celebrations  as having no basis in the Bible, from as early as 1583.  Thus, even after the Cromwellian ban was lifted elsewhere, Christmas festivities continued to be discouraged in Scotland.  In fact, Christmas remained a normal working day in Scotland until 1958 and Boxing Day did not become a National Holiday until much later.  Slowly, people began to go back to memories of olden days to find ways to make merry and celebrate.  Thus, Hogmanay became a mid-winter celebration to chase away the darkness and welcome the light.




26 December 2017

Happy Boxing Day!!


To my family, Christmas Eve was special.  All the activity in getting ready was a flurry of magical joy.  We opened presents at Midnight, and then Christmas Day was for family only.

But I often thought Boxing Day was even more special.  Back when I was small, we often had deep snows at Christmas,  so my grandfather would get out the sleighs and hitch up the horses, and  then we would load up boxes of gifts for friends and neighbors.   And we would go calling.  This was so much fun, and I saw giving was more special than getting.

Rarely is there snow these days, and I don't get back home anymore.  Times change, but I do so miss their special Boxing Days, and my heart yearns for riding in the sleighs, singing carols and visiting everyone.



23 December 2017

Wishing you all the best this Holiday Season



Celebration of Bowcock's Eve in Cornall


Well, take Candy out tomorrow to celebrate this wonderfully quaint holiday
Bowcock's Eve in Cornwall, England

Tom Bawcock's Eve is an annual festival, held on 23 December, in Mousehole, Cornwall,  England.
The festival is held in celebration and memorial of the efforts of legendary Mousehole resident Tom Bawcock to lift a famine from the village by going out to fish in a severe storm. During this festival Stargazy pie (a mixed fish, egg and potato pie with protruding fish heads) is eaten and depending on the year of celebration a lantern procession takes place.




FOR THE CRUST:
2 1⁄4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. mustard powder
12 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 tbsp. ice-cold water

FOR THE FILLING:
6 slices bacon, cut into one inch pieces
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup chicken stock
1⁄3 cup crème fraîche
2 tbsp. English mustard
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste|
8 fresh sardines, cleaned, heads attached
3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and sliced

Instructions
Crust: Whisk flour, mustard, and salt in a bowl. Using blend butter into flour mixture, forming pea-size crumbles. Add water.  Work dough until smooth but with visible flecks of butter. Divide dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour before using.
Filling: Heat bacon in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until slightly crisp, 5–7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add butter and onion to pan.  Cook until golden, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in stock, crème fraîche, mustard, parsley, lemon juice, half the egg, and salt; set aside.

Heat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of dough into a 12” round. Fit into a 9” pie plate; trim edges, leaving 1” dough overhanging edge of plate. Arrange sardines in a clocklike pattern with heads resting along edge of crust. Pour filling over sardines; top with reserved bacon, the hard-boiled eggs, salt, and pepper. Roll remaining disk of dough into a 12” round; cut eight 1” slits in dough about 2” from the edge. Place over top of pie and pull sardine heads through slits. Pinch top and bottom edges together and fold under; crimp edges. Brush with remaining egg and cut three 1”-long slits in top of pie; bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.








Happy Bowcock's Eve!!!


21 December 2017

Welcoming the Solstice


The night loses its grip as the sun returns....
#WinterSolstice  
The long, dark night of the soul...

17 December 2017

The Small Things of Christmases Past



Sometimes, it's the small things that mean Christmas. I recall when this flying angels came out. You lit a couple candles, and the heat caused the blades to turn, and three angels with trumpets would spin around. Silly. Cheap.Little clappers would strike bells. But I recall watching it and the shadows it would through in a dark room and I would feel the world was okay. I sure wish I had a set of them right now.



15 December 2017

An interview posted at Cheryl Holloway's blog


http://www.cherylholloway.net/blog/2017/12/15/guest-author-interview-lindsay-townsend-and-deborah-macgillivray/


13 December 2017

Author's Guild Warning about Open Library. ORG

MESSAGE FROM AUTHORS GUIDE -- WARNING TO AUTHOR!!!

Two weeks ago I discovered my novels on this site, and despite their mission statement, they NEVER answered my DMCA notices to take them down.  They have 12-31 different file copies PER BOOK, and it allowed people to download them for FREE Worldwide.

They were also selling my books at $5.99 each with the notation "Copyright Abandoned"  Which is NOT the case.  So please check you books and make sure they are not there.

Thankfully MUSO.com an anti-piracy site was able to get my files taken down.  So please go check and see if your titles are not on this massive site.

At the bottom in RED is DMCA notice you can create and send to them demanding they take down your files.
Dear Members,
Sorry for the influx of emails, but there is a lot going on right now!

I am writing today about a troubling development, and we are asking for your help. Internet Archive has sought donations of hard-copy books from libraries and individuals for a number of years now. While they recently made much of their project to scan and make available books in their last 20 years of copyright, they have been remarkably quiet about a project that could bring enormous harm to the publishing industry and authors. They have recently posted a massive quantity of scanned books (including works still in copyright that are not in the last 20 years of their protected term) on their Open Library website: www.openlibrary.org. While they have been doing this for some time, there appears to be a sudden influx of in-copyright books made available, as well as the ability to download. Anyone can log-in, presumably from anywhere in the world, search for and click on a book to “check it out” for a period of two weeks.

So far, that mimics regular library lending in that only one person can check out a book at a time. Once checked out, the full text of the books can be easily downloaded; the site even provides download buttons to make it easy. That means anyone in the world can check out and download your book(s), as long as they do it one person at a time. We did some spot checking and asked council members to check for their books. Each author who checked found that one or more of their in-copyright books were available in the Open Library for download.

IA describes Open Library as follows:
"The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries project will bring four million books online, through purchase or digitization, while honoring the rights of creators and expanding their online reach. Working with U.S. libraries and organizations serving people with print disabilities, Open Libraries can build the online equivalent of a great, modern public library, providing millions of free digital books to billions of people.”

But, contrary to their statement that they are “honoring the rights of creators,” they are not respecting those creators’ copyrights. They do not limit Open Library to people with print disabilities and there is nothing legal about providing full text copies of copyrighted material for download on a public website without permission.

So, we are asking you to check and see if scanned copies of your books are available on Open Library without permission. If they are, please let us know by filling out this form. 

We also ask that you contact your publisher if you want your book taken down from Open Library.You may also send a takedown notice directly to Internet Archive. The address to email to request a takedown is: info@archive.org

Here is a form notice that you may use:

Dear Internet Archive,

I am the author of the book(s) noted below. It has come to my attention that, without permission from either me or my publisher [insert name], you have scanned and are making my book(s) available for “loan” and also for download on your publicly available website, openlibrary.com; anyone in the world can create a login, check the book out and then download it in its entirety, which is a clear infringement of my copyright. Please remove my book(s) from the Open Library website and any other website owned or controlled by you.

My book(s) is/are entitled: [list all books on the site without permission]

They are located at the following URL’s on your site: [provide URL for each book]

My contact information is: [insert address, telephone number, and email address].

I attest under penalty of perjury, that I have a good faith belief that Internet Archive’s Open Library’s use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and further that the information in this notification is accurate, and that I am the copyright owner.
Electronic signature: [type name]






10 December 2017

Three Days of One Knight Stands - Sunday edition



Deborah Macgillivray - A Marriage Made In Hell


  Essence of the game is deception...

When her half-sister refuses to marry the powerful earl of Hellborne, Greyson de Verre, Lesslyn de Sancerre sees the chance to have a life, a home and a husband of her own, so she agrees to take her sister's place.  Her sister, in turn, is off to elope with the man she has fallen in love with.  Everything appears fated in this pact the two women seal.  What seemed like a logical solution at the time soon becomes a battle to keep ahead of the lies.  Lesslyn quickly learns plots and schemes are easily concocted, but realities arising from the falsehoods are a different matter altogether.  Especially, when she is quickly falling in love with Greyson de Verre...her husband to be. 
Commanded to wed by royal decree...

When Edward Plantagenet demands you must marry, you have little options...or do you?  King Edward has commanded that the earl of Hellborne must marry the heiress of Sancerre.  After all a bargain is a bargain—even if the earl views the coming marriage with disdain.  Only, the enigmatic lord of Hellborne needs must wed on Yuletide. . .so wed he shall...no matter what.     
Even if it is a Marriage Made in Hell. . .






Lindsay Townsend - Sir Constantine and the Changeling
                                                                          
He had hurt and betrayed her in the worst way possible. Could Kari and Constantine save their marriage? In a medieval world that believed in God, saints, spirits and the fey, there were also darker forces to be feared. Malicious fairies could steal human babies away or substitue their own children—changelings. Kari and Constantine have been apart for two years, he on crusade in the Holy Land, she left behind in his lands to raise their unborn child alone. When her husband returns with his Templar brother Hadrian in tow, the separation she and Constantine have endured, plus Hadrian’s evil influence, leads to terrible accusations between them. Her husband thinks now that her beloved baby son Valentine might be a changeling. In the face of such a charge, and remembering an older tragedy, Kari feels she has no choice but to flee Constantine’s homeland and retreat to her own country of the high waterlands.   Constantine follows her. Realising what he has done, he begs his wife to return with him, but can Kari trust him again? And will he ever accept Valentine as his true son? At the time of Yule, many things are possible, and as Kari and Constantine strive to rebuild their relationship, the snows, an old hut and the Yule Goat will all play vital parts.

 


Cynthia Breeding – Twelfth Knight

Isobel De Lacy’s guardian, Baron Roger De Lacy, is set to join King Richard in Outremer directly after the winter Solstice.  Before he leaves he wants to make sure his niece is married. His groom of choice is Sir Guy of Gisborne, henchman to the Sheriff of Nottingham, and notorious for being heavy-fisted.
            Isobel would rather sacrifice herself to the Great Horned God before that happened.
            While gathering holly in the woods, she stumbles across an injured knight and takes him back to the castle to be looked after.  He turns out to be Sir William of Barnsdale, nephew to the Earl of Huntingdon. Isobel hatches a plan. The powerful earl can keep her safe from Gisborne and, when Sir William chivalrously agrees to help her escape, she decides perhaps the auld gods have sent her a Yuletide gift.
            But as they ride through Sherwood Forest, she finds that “gift” to be much more than she had anticipated.



Angela Raines - Gunvar’s Gift


The clashing of cultures, the memory of childhood, each pulled at Gerold and Annika as fate and a bit of magic conspired to bring them together. 

Gerold and his friends are among a group fighting the Northmen who have invaded their country, and for Gerold it is even more personal. 


Annika, a Shield Maiden in the army of Northmen is out for revenge with those who killed her beloved father, Gunvar.  Could love and understanding bring about miracles at such a special time of year? 

 



Keena Kincaid - Five Yules

 The New One: Waleran de Marche promised not to marry her, but it was a vow he couldn’t keep. Cateline de Armiens possesses the land and coin he needs to distance himself from his father and the coming war in England.

Cate is tired of broken promises and betrayal. When Wal vows to keep her safe and secure, she ignores his promise and welcomes his departure on royal errands. In his absence, she creates a home without him, and finds his return each Yule an annoyance, not a joyful homecoming.



But when the king’s enemy takes her hostage, she will learn just how far her husband will go to keep his word to protect her—but will he reach her in time to save her life and their marriage or will this be their last Yule?




Patti Sherry-Crews - The Protector

 What can Juliana Basset, the daughter of an English merchant, have done to put her in the sights of the most powerful men in the country? It’s not what’s she’s done but what she knows. She harbors a secret that could topple the monarchy. A knight, Sir William, is sent to take her into protection until things settle down.

Stowing her away in a convent until things settle down seems like a good idea. Except Juliana stumbles upon yet another secret while there. Things are not adding up at the convent—literally. When she can't help but dig around, the place of sanctuary could be the death of her. Trying to keep the lovely lady out of harm's way turns out to be more of a challenge than Sir William anticipated.


 


Beverly Wells - The Gift

           
Sir Geoffrey Eton, captain of Sir Royce’s regiment is a hardened, gruff warrior. All his life he served England, protected others, and trained men. Tavern wenches satisfied his occasional needs. There simply was no necessity for a wife. Orphan, Heather Douglas grew up in an abbey in Scotland, loving life.

When she joins her best friend at the Scotland castle granted to Royce, she brings her smiles and laughter. She also brings her flawed leg, her stubbornness and determination. Will her bright smile and charm be the weapons to finally take down the mighty warrior Geoffrey’s resistance?  
     

 


 Dawn Thompson – A Wish Under a Yuletide Moon

It was under the cold Yuletide moon when Garlon Trivelyan, Knight of the Realm, heard the sirens keen—just before the ship hit Land’s End shoals.  As the galley broke apart, he felt something keeping him afloat in the icy waters, nudging him toward shore.  He suddenly found himself on the beach, his arm deeply wounded.  His blood black under the silver moonlight. 

 Garlon knew he was dying so he made a wish to live, never remotely believing that final request could be answered. Too late he recalled the warning: be careful for what you wish.


Annalee, the goddess of the wishing well, heard the mortal’s plea—and answered it.  Now Garlon Trevilyan was trapped in the land of the Fae on the night of Yule, where magic could save a dying man’s life.  But at what price?


Answer today's question to win a beautiful Tradesize print copy of One Winter Knight



Sunday’s Question:

If you had to go back in time to the era of Knights and Ladies, and could only take three things from your modern world to make life easier, what would that be?

 
Sunday Win a copy of One Yuletide Knight

and

One Grand Prize Winner of all three books





Happy Holidays!!!