Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Message To You

Wouldn't it be really nice if we could have peace in this world?  It's so tiresome being at war all the time.  Families are fighting, people fight with one another and countries are at war.  It's just tedious and tiring.  Wouldn't it be so much easier if everyone got along? 

Merry Christmas and Peace in the New Year for all. 

Wouldn't you rather have hugs than war?  I would. 

This is my last blog for this year.  See you January 4, 2015.  Have a safe and Happy New Year.

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@Eirelander Publishing
Buy links at Amazon
The Catalyst -
Addiction -
The Deceived -
A Fool's Fool -
All Bets Are Off -
Buy links at Barnes & Noble
The Catalyst -
 Addiction -
 The Deceived -
All Bets Are Off -


Sunday, December 7, 2014

How Christmas is Celebrated in Other Countries

With Christmas rapidly approaching I thought you might like to know how other countries celebrate this holiday.  I chose countries that have traditions very unlike our own, although, our country is made up of many cultures and many of them do not celebrate in the same way I do.  I respect their right to their beliefs. 

Christmas in America

Here in the United States Christians celebrate the birth of Christ by putting up Christmas decorations such as a tree with lights, a nativity scene, and decorations all over the house inside and out.  We put presents under the tree to give to children and others.

On Christmas Eve many children are in small nativity plays at church, which helps them to learn about the birth of Christ.  Members of the Catholic church go to midnight mass to celebrate Christ's birth. 

Christmas in Greece

In Greece one of the traditions on Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out singing 'kalanda' (carols) in the streets. They play drums and triangles as they sing. Sometimes the will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands.

If the children sing well, they might be given money, nuts, sweets and dried figs to eat.  Christmas trees are starting to become more popular, but they aren't a tradition.  Going to a Midnight Mass Service is very important to most Greeks.  

Christmas in Costa Rica

During Christmas in Costa Rica, people like to decorate their houses with beautiful tropical flowers. A model of the nativity scene, called the Pasito or Portal, is the center of the display. It's also decorated with flowers and sometimes fruit. Some of the scenes take a long time to make and all the family is involved. As well as the traditional figures, people add other models including houses and lots of different sorts of animals.

Christmas wreaths are made of cypress branches and are decorated with red coffee berries and ribbons. Most homes, shops and important buildings are decorated with Christmas lights.  On Christmas Eve everyone dresses up to go to Midnight Mass.

Christmas in Hungry

In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and is called 'Szent-este' which means Holy Evening. People spend the evening with their family and decorate the Christmas Tree. Sometimes only the adults decorate the tree (without the children there), so when children come in and see the tree, it's a great surprise and they are told that angels brought the tree for them!

The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas eve, consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread/cake called 'Beigli'.  The Midnight Mass service is very popular in Hungary. Most people go to Church after their Christmas meal.

On Christmas Day people visit their families.

Christmas in India

Compared to other religious festivals, Christmas is quite a small festival in India, due to the number of people who are Christians (about 2.3%) compared to people who belong to other religions. The population of India is over 1 Billion, and there are over 25 million Christians in India!

One of the largest Indian Christian Communities is in Mumbai. A lot of the Christians in Mumbai (previously known as Bombay) are Roman Catholics.  Midnight mass is a very important service for Christians in India, especially Catholics. The whole family will walk to the mass and this will be followed by a massive feast of different delicacies, (mostly curries) and the giving and receiving of presents. Churches in India are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass service.

Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated (or whatever tree people can find to decorate!). Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes.

In Southern India, Christians often put small oil burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world.  In north-west India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk, go out night after night for a week at Christmas to sing their own carols the whole night through. They go to surrounding villages singing to people and telling the Christmas story.

Christmas in Jamaica

Christmas is a very special time in Jamaica and like a lot of other countries, radio stations play carols all through the Christmas period.  Lots of people paint their houses and hang new curtains and decorations for Christmas. Most families spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family members.

The Christmas day meal is usually prepared on Christmas Eve. The traditional Jamaican Christmas meal include fresh fruits, sorrel and rum punch and meat. The Christmas Day breakfast includes ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea. Dinner is usually served in the late afternoon and this may include chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail, rice and peas.

Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake is traditional and is eaten in most homes. The fruits in the cake are soaked in red wine and white rum for months before Christmas.

Christmas in Pakistan

In Pakistan, December 25th is a public holiday, but it is in memory of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Like in India, Christians make up a very small part of the population. But as Pakistan has a population over 162 million people, there are more than 5 millions Christians! Most Christians in Pakistan live the country and are quite poor.

At Christian festivals, like Christmas and Easter, a big procession takes place, in Lahore, from St. Anthony's Church to the Cathedral. It takes hours to reach the Cathedral for the services. These are then celebrated with lots of enthusiasm! Before and during Advent, spiritual seminars take place to help people to prepare for Christmas or 'Bara Din' (which in Urdu and Punjabi means the 'Big Day'). This expression is very popular, even among Muslims in Pakistan.

During the last week of Advent, in many Christian areas, carol singing is performed by various groups. They go from house to house singing carols and in return the family offers something to the choir. Mostly the money collected from such carols is used for charity works or is given to the church.

In the big Christian areas, each house is decorated and has a star on the roof. The streets are also decorated and lit. The crib and Christmas tree are also important decorations. Sometimes there are crib competitions! Christians also sometimes exchange Christmas cakes.

On Christmas eve, Churches are packed for the midnight or vigil-mass services. The choirs sing very special hymns. After the vigil-mass, in some places, there are fireworks which help celebrate the start of Bara Din. People dance, exchange presents and enjoy the special night.

On Bara Din or Christmas day, Christians go to Church again for the Bara Din celebrations. People wear their best, colourful clothes. They can stay in the Church courtyard for hours, enjoying various food from the different stalls. The evening is usually celebrated with immediate family or relatives where special food is enjoyed. Adults often visit their parents.

The traditional Christmas greeting in Punjabi is 'Bara Din Mubarrak Ho', which means, 'the blessing of Christmas on you'.

Christmas in South Korea

There are more Christians in South Korea (the Republic of Korea) than in other Asian countries such as China and Japan, so Christmas is celebrated more widely. (Christians make up about 25-30% of the population.) However, the other 70% of people in South Korea are Buddhist (about 25%) or don't have a religion.

Unlike Japan, Christmas is an official public holiday - so some people have the day of work and school (although for some people it's just another working day or day at school)! But they go back on the 26th (Boxing Day). There's a longer official winter break in the New Year.

Churches are decorated with lights and many have a bright red neon cross on top (all the year!) so that goes very well with the Christmas lights! Most churches will have a service on Christmas day. Going to Church for Christmas is becoming more popular, even among non Christians.

In North Korea Christmas is very different.  Officially, a person is allowed to be a Christian, but they can be imprisoned or killed for being one.  To celebrate Christmas it's done in secret. 

Christmas in Japan

Christmas is not widely celebrated in Japan as not many people there are Christians. However, several customs have come to Japan from the USA such as sending and receiving Christmas Cards and Presents.

In Japan, Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents. In many ways it resembles Valentine's Day celebrations in the UK and the USA. Young couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant - booking a table on Christmas Eve can be very difficult as it's so popular!

Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th.

I hope all of you found this as fascinating as I did.  There were many more countries I could have told you about, but I didn't want to overload everyone.  If there are countries you are interested in learning about their Christmas traditions go to this link:

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday.

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@Eirelander Publishing

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Do You Remember the Day?

My husband is taking over my blog, so be sure to leave a comment.  Here he is, my honey, Ron Marshall.  Smile!  It's all yours.  I may add a few comments here and there just to spice it up a bit.   

I can remember some (just some) years back when television was not on 24/7. I would watch TV in the evenings until it went off the air around midnight, TV back then signed off the air with the Star-spangled Banner song. (That was a really long time ago. They had rabbit ears then.)
Television with Rabbit Ears

Also, I remember there were only a couple of  advertisements in a thirty minute program. Now, I wonder how many people watch TV today and wonder where the hell all of those advertisements come from.  I can change channels to several different stations, and the odds of finding another advertisement is almost guaranteed. To me the odds are pretty damn good you are going to get a commercial everywhere you go.  (I understand your frustration, honey.)

I understand they need to make revenue but every 5 or maybe 10 minutes, if you are lucky. When they first talked about cable TV coming it was rumored that they would be commercial free. I just wonder why we pay so much money for cable or whatever means we get our programming to watch nothing but commercials.

So many commercials are trying to sell you medications, and you have to ask your doctor if a certain med will cure you. They warn you on the advertisement the side effects could be heart attack, liver problems, internal bleeding, swelling of your joints, etc..  There is always a disclaimer, and it goes on and on. Why would you even consider taking a medication with so may side effects.  It scares the hell out of you to take anything.  (You are right, honey, and not only that many medications make you feel dizzy and off-balance.)

Another commercial is for quick car loans with no questions asked.  hahahahahha  Well I was just wondering if you remember, I sure do. 

Well, that's it from my husband this time.    He just had to rant. 

Have a good week, and I'll see you next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@ Eirelander Publishing

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Favorite Pumpkin Bread Recipe

The holidays are upon us with Thanksgiving this Thursday.  It's the time of year to express thanks for being lucky to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.  When you think of all the people in the world who don't have these things then you know you're fortunate. 

This is the time of year I do all my baking.  When I used to work at TWA, I always took cookies and bread every in for everyone as my gift to my co-workers.  It's time to make sugar cookies, chocolate chips, oatmeal cookies, Christmas balls with pecans, date cookies, pumpkin bread, banana nut bread and many more.  Years ago I even made pop corn balls, but not anymore.  Too much work!  Even some of the other things have fallen by the wayside. 

One thing I do make is pumpkin bread.  It's not the traditional pumpkin bread that looks like mustard.  My pumpkin bread is rich and dark, which means it's mysterious, but I'm going to give you the recipe today.  However, I have to warn you it is rich and has a ton of calories, but you'll love it.  To make it all you do is dump all the ingredients in a bowl like a dump cake.  Simple!

Pumpkin Bread
3 1/2 cups flour                                  3 cups sugar
3 t soda                                               1 cup Crisco oil
1 1/2 t salt                                           4 eggs
1 t cinnamon                                       1/3 cup water
1 t nutmeg                                           1 can pumpkin (16 oz)
1 t ginger                                             2 t vanilla
1 t cloves                                             1 cup black walnuts

Use 1 pd. coffee cans or bread pans, grease and fill half full.  Depending on the size of bread pans you'll get three loaves.  I sometimes make the miniature loaves, and then I can get five or six loaves.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour for large loaves.  Be sure to check with a toothpick because it could take longer and it will take less time with smaller loaves. 

It makes a huge difference if you use English walnuts instead of black walnuts.  It changes the flavor.  Also, I have added raisins, but not often because I like this recipe just like it is. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Have a great and safe holiday, and I'll see you again next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@Eirelander Publishing

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Best Selling Author, Suz deMello Explains What You Need and Don't Need in a Book

Please welcome, author, Suz deMello and learn how to write a romance.  This talented author can give you a lot of tips if you're a beginning writer, or even a published author. 

About the Author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms as Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.


Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Check out Suzie's site:

And her blog:

A few words about writing sex scenes by Suz deMello (#NaNoWriMo #iamwriting #writingcraft @MFRW_ORG)

From my writing treatise, Plotting and Planning, available at

My first writing treatise, Write This, Not That! is free through 2014:     kobo  google

 Scenes are the building blocks of your story, for acts are comprised of scenes. They're nothing more than events, most often interactions between your characters. Scenes should fulfill at least one or two of the below purposes—best if you can include all four.

•Advance plot

•Reveal or develop character

•Complicate or resolve conflict

•Express setting, mood, theme

Everything in your manuscript should have a function, even every comma or em-dash.

How does this apply to the writing of erotica?

Too often, sex scenes are shoehorned into a story to increase the word count or the heat level, while those scenes don't fulfill any other function. To quote from Plotting and Planning again, Everything in a story should contribute to it, from the biggest monster to the tiniest comma.

If a scene doesn't contribute to the story, it doesn't belong there. It doesn't matter how well-written it is. It doesn't matter how hot it is. It doesn't matter how much you, the author, may love the beautiful prose or the scorching hot, kinky sex.

There's a piece of writerly advice out there: Kill your darlings.

No one's quite sure where this phrase originated, but it's been repeated often, by such notable authors as William Faulkner and Stephen King.

But it doesn't matter who originated the phrase--it's great advice. We often fall in love with our prose and are loath to cut it, especially when we may have slaved over a particularly well-turned clause or exhaustively researched, say, the eating habits of the lesser lemur of Madagascar.

But fiction is no place to be a smarty-pants. Leave that for term papers, book reports and theses.

In terms of writing sex scenes, what do we leave in and what do we cut?

We leave in those scenes that fulfill at least one of the above purposes. Ideally, a well-written, thoughtfully planned encounter will fulfill more than one purpose.

Here's a brief example, from a story I wrote called Gypsy Witch. The back story is that the heroine is dating a cop.

Ben propped himself up on his elbows to better see the naked woman beneath him. Sheened with sweat, Elena’s lush curves glowed in the reddish half-light of her bedroom, curtained in exotically patterned swaths of gauze and silk. A curl of smoke from a lit incense stick scented the air with sandalwood. Otherworldly New Age music flowed out of a boombox in the corner, irritating the hell out of him.

Though the paragraph is very sensual, there’s quite a bit of characterization and even a little conflict—and this is only the first paragraph of the story. We see that Ben is very “feet-on-the-ground” while Elena, his lover, is exotic and New-Agey. So character is described, setting is related and the romantic conflict is shown.

If you like what you read, find the story here:

As a romance novelist, I believe firmly that erotic scenes should never be gratuitous. If a writer keeps the purposes a scene must fulfill in mind while writing, the sex is never out of place but is a seamless part of a well-written story.

Thank you, Suz, for being here today.  I'm sure all of my readers including myself have learned a lot from you.

If anyone has any questions of Suz be sure to ask them in the comment section.  Be sure to check out Suz's website at and her blog at

Suz, thank you for visiting my blog today.  I've enjoyed learning from you. 

Have a great week, and I'll be back on my blog next Sunday.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Veteran's Day

Tuesday is Veteran's Day, so please don't forget our soldiers away from home as well as here.  Our men and women in the armed services overseas are lonely and homesick, so if you have someone fighting for us in another country be sure to write to them and send them packages from home.  As the holidays approach it will be even worse for these young people so please, please write weekly to your family members and others.

So many of our young soldiers suffer horrible injuries both mentally and physically, so be sure not to forget them when they come home.  If you can, donate to Wounded Warriors at

It's the Soldier, not the reporter Who has given us the freedom of the press.

It's the Soldier, not the poet, Who has given us the freedom of speech.

It's the Soldier, not the politicians that ensures Our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of

It's the Soldier who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag.
Author Unknown

For those who can't donate monetary or time to help our veterans just click daily on this site and you can help them.

Thank you for reading, have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@ Eirelander Publishing
Twitter - @AuthSKMarshall

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Contest ! Contest!

Romance Books 4 Us is having another contest this month and below is a list of the prizes being offered. 

1. Two $50 Gift Cards - one each for two winners.
2. $10 Gift Card for Secret Cravings Publishing for SCP.
3. Choice of ebook from backlist books by romance author Tina Donahue.
4. Ebook of winner's choice from backlist books by romance author Jean Hart Stewart.
5. Kindle copy of Belle's Band by romance author Alina K. Field.
6. E-copy of Tidal Falls by romance author Jacquie Biggar.
7. Christmas ornaments (Texas theme) from romance author Desiree Holt.
8. Ebook of winner's choice from backlist of romance author JC Szot.
9. PDF copy of Do You Take This Cat by romance author Missy Martine.
10.Ebook of The Silk Tie by romance author Lily Harlem.
11.Signed paperback of Christmas At The Cove by romance author Rachel Brimble.
12. Paperback copy of The Rover Bold by romance author Anna Markland.
13.A Thanksgiving digital swag bag including Starbucks Gift Card, ebook copy of Scents and Sensuality and Ebook copy of Written Wisdom by romance author Joan Reeves.
14.E-copy of Romancing Christmas by romance author Sandy Loyd.
15. Kindle copy of When We Dance by romance author Alanna Lucas.
16.Ebook of winner's choice from books (including Snow Angel) by romance author Chantilly White.
17.A bag of Christmas decorations and an e-copy of The Catalyst by romance author Sandra K. Marshall.
18.Tote of Scottish goodies: books, mug, mouse pad, shirt, etc., from romance author/model A.B. McKinley.

17.A bag of Christmas decorations and an e-copy of The Catalyst by romance author DD
Details on how to enter the contest go to

Good luck with the contest everyone. 

Have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday.

Sandra K. Marshall, Author
@ Eirelander Publishing