Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day History

Memorial Day is an American holiday that is celebrated the last Monday of May. It honors men and women who died in service in the U.S. military. It was initially called Decoration Day and began in the years following the Civil War. It became an official holiday in 1971.

The Civil War took more lives than any other conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country'e first national cemetery. By the late 1860's many towns and cities throughout America held springtime tributes to their fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and saying prayers.

While it is difficult to attribute who originated the tradition in 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, New York the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo was chosen because it was the first to hold community-wide events during which businesses closed and everyone participated in decorating the graves of soldiers.

In 1862, General John A. Logan, called for a national day of decorating the graves of those who fell during the Civil War since almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard claimed Civil War soldiers. In 1868, he requested May 30 as the date specifically because it wasn't the anniversary of any particular battle.

The first Decoration Day ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery. 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar ceremonies and continued the new tradition each year. By 1890 Decoration Day was an official state holiday in almost every Northern state. Many Southern states continued to honor their dead on a separate date until World War 1 when the commemoration evolved into honoring all U.S. personnel who died in wars and Decoration Day became Memorial Day.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "InFlanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem: 
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She originated the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later Madam Anna Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. 

In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Copyright: Jemal Countess/Redux
Since the late 1950's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights.
Today, cities and towns across the country commemorate the day. On a less somber note, the holiday weekend has become synonymous with parties, backyard barbeques, beach openings, and the unofficial beginning of summer.
Our town had a short remembrance at town hall and a parade where many of our town's soldiers and political officials proudly marched. There was lots of flag waving and an overwhelming feeling of pride. later today our main street will be closed for an outdoor fair. With the kids all doing their own thing this weekend, Paul and I are spending some quiet time at home. I'd like to sit on the deck (it is suppose to be 80 degrees here today) and catch up on my reading. How are you spending your Memorial Day?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Top 10 Things to Do This Summer

It's only a week until Memorial Day, the start of summer, and I'm ready to plan things to do. Here are the things that are on my list, so far:
1. Take a day trip. Go someplace nearby and cycle, hike, or just chill out and eat with friends. Hmm, maybe the Cloisters.
Or, if you’re more adventurous, dash through a forest or go for a run or walk in the rain. As you enter the cool shade of a nature park or hiking trail, where the sunlight slants through the green leaves, pick up your pace until you’re going at a clip. Enjoy the scenery and the exercise.
2. Catch a performance. Whether it’s a musical, recital, concert, or a play, nothing beats the felling that comes from being at close range with being people who are giving their all in expression and emotion and hopefully, with heart.
3. Tackle your ‘To Be Read’ pile while you’re at the beach, resting in the backyard, or sitting on the porch. Okay, if it’s too hot, in a cool air conditioned room works too. If you haven’t got a TBR pile, go to your local library, browse, and make a list of the books you want to read.
4. Breakfast and catch up with a friend, or group of friends, you don’t see often.
5. Throw away stuff. Start with one room, a small room. If that’s too fear provoking, start with a closet.
6. Reconnect. Send an email, text, or instant message to someone you lost touch with. Look at number 4. Actually, I'm planning to go to the RWA National Conference in Atlanta and have planned to see my friend Rosanne. We haven't seen each other in ages.
7. Take a road trip with the girls! The word ‘summer’ and ‘road trip’ go together like ‘hotdog’ and ‘mustard.’ In college, road trips were ways to burn weekends, which, of course, started on Friday. The key is to keep the vacation short and inexpensive.
8. Think of something you used to do all by yourself when you were younger/ unattached, when time was all you ever had, all you ever needed. If it is at all possible, wrangle half a day and spend it exactly as you did. Then write about it and post it in the comments here.
9. Okay, so I've listed day trips and road trips but for me there is nothing like getting the entire family together for some quality time together. It's a bit difficult to get everyone's schedule synchronized but we're working at a week at the beach.

10. I plan to write one book over the summer and plan out a second.

How do you plan to spend the summer?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Guest Author ~ Shona Husk

Today, guest author Shona Rusk is with us. Her new book, Ruby’s Ghost by Samhain Publishing, releases tomorrow, May 14. It is a Paranormal Romance, the kind I love! 
Shona, tell us a little about Ruby’s Ghost.
Ruby’s Ghost came out of a conversation I had about my little niece who was convinced the ghost of a motorcyclist was visiting her bedroom. Being a romance writer I thought he’d make an interesting hero…especially if he weren’t totally dead just dislocated from his body. It’s a story about choices, right from the start when Tate is looking at his life and girlfriend and realizing he’s moved on while she hasn’t. Of course he doesn’t realize then just how hard Ruby will try to keep him.
I have a few questions that Shona has graciously agreed to answer.
1.     How long did it take you to write Ruby’s Ghost?
I’d actually written it a while ago and had left it sitting because I didn’t have time to go back and clean it up. When I went to the US last year I decided that since I wasn’t going to be doing any actual writing while on holiday I’d take it with me to revise and polish, so when I was on long car trips or on planes I was working on Ruby’s Ghost. Time wise it feels like it took me a very long time to pull it together but I think that’s just because it was so spread out.
2.     Why did you decide to write paranormal romance?
I actually grew up reading fantasy and discovered paranormal romance in my mid-twenties. Paranormal romance seems the perfect blend between fantasy and reality with a HEA as an added bonus. Do you know how many romances fail in traditional fantasy novels? In discovering paranormal romance I was able to have all the fun of new worlds plus romance. Writing it and making up my own worlds is even more fun J
3.     Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?
Multiple drafts. I plot, then I write out what I call a scene guide, so 1 paragraph per scene. At this stage I’m busy moving bits around, and making sure the story works. Then I start writing. It gets read by my crit partners, I edit. I edit once more and then I hit send.
4.     What advice do you have for other writers?
Read lots, and read widely.
5.     What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?
Being at events like RT and ARRC in Australia and having people say how much they love my books. On the inside I’m always ‘OMG they’ve read my book!’
6.     What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author?
I was made redundant during the GFC and in the time I was unemployed I started really working on my writing and treating like a job, I then started selling. I think that first sale cemented in my mind that I could do this.
7.     With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?
I don’t know where it’s going, but as long as readers keep wanting books to read then there will still be a publishing industry.
8.     What makes a man attractive to you?
Nice smile and eyes, honesty, good attitude.
Ruby's Ghost -- Breaking up is hard to survive.
One moment, Tate Cooper is giving his ex-girlfriend a lift home on his motorcycle. The next, his soul is suspended between life and death, wandering in confusion between the accident scene and the house he grew up in.
Except it’s not his home anymore. In his old bedroom sleeps a beautiful young woman, the only person who can see him. And the only person who can keep him from succumbing to the temptation to escape the horrific pain awaiting him in his mortal body.
Eloise Jones should be studying for her college exams, but it’s tough to stay focused when a lost soul keeps appearing in her room. She figures it must have something to do with sirens she heard screaming in the night, but she’s helpless to assist—and helpless to resist.
As Eloise tries to help Tate unravel the tangled facts surrounding the accident, longing and desire grow into an almost tangible bond between them. But then a second spirit appears, one with a darker intent that could separate them before love draws its first breath…
Warning: Contains a vengeful ex and a romance that crosses the boundary between life and death.
Shona’s Bio:

Three time ARRA finalist Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she weaves new worlds and writes heroes who aren’t afraid to get hurt while falling in love.
With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and Sourcebooks. You can find out more at 
Shona loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at