Thursday, December 08, 2016

Kissing under the Mistletoe

(a repost from a group blog in 2011)

Mistletoe is one of the traditions of the Christmas Season. But did you know—

Mistletoe is an evergreen.  The traditions of displaying evergreens at Christmas came about as a way to bring color and the green hope of spring into the home.

This plant however is a parasitic shrub. It grows on trees, living off the host plant. They are not full parasites, since the plants are capable of photosynthesis. But these mistletoe plants are parasitic in the sense that they send a special kind of root system down into their hosts, the trees upon which they grow, in order to extract nutrients from the trees.

Mistletoe has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb. It may also possess abortifacient qualities, which would help explain its association with uninhibited sexuality.

The unusual botanical history of mistletoe goes a long way towards explaining the awe in which it was held in the Norse myths. For in spite of not being rooted in the soil, mistletoe remained green throughout the winter, while the trees upon which it grew and upon which it fed did not (the European mistletoe often grows on apple trees; more rarely on oaks). This little plant remaining green while the host plant died fascinated the unscientific masses.

The folklore, and the magical powers of this plant, spread through the centuries It was thought placing a sprig in a baby's cradle would protect the child from faeries. Giving a sprig to the first cow calving after New Year would protect the entire herd.

Ancient Scandinavia and the Norse mythology is where the tale of kissing und the mistletoe started. It was considered a plant of peace in Scandinavian history. If enemies found themselves under mistletoe in the forest they laid down their weapons and called a truce until the next day.

Most say kissing under the mistletoe is an English custom even though there is a story that dates back to Norse mythology. It is about an overprotective mother.

The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements--fire, water, air, and earth--that they would not harm her beloved Balder. 

Leave it to Loki, a sly, evil spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead. 

Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. In the version of the story with a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant--making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.
Is hanging mistletoe a tradition in your family?

Monday, December 05, 2016

Guest- Cindy Nord

Today my Guest is Cindy Nord. She's a historical romance author and a fun person. Check out this interview.

Why do you enjoy writing historical romance?
Cindy: Thanks so much for the wonderful invite to visit your blog, Paty, and what a great question! I’ll begin with the words HISTORICAL DETAILING. Indeed, what I relish most about writing, aside from the love story, of course, is the indisputable minutiae that breathes my characters into life:  the pinch of an evening corset, the plushness of an Aubusson carpet beneath morning slippers, the glint of firelight off an ivory cameo pinned at my heroine’s throat, or, yes, even the weight of a .44 caliber Colt in my hero’s palm. Specifics such as these engulf my readers into my characters’ lives. The elements for a “perfect love story” are varied, but … to me … ’tis the challenge of seamlessly melding history around an ardent romance filled with sensations that tug at my readers’ heartstrings. As a child of educators, I’ve always possessed a love of history, so my passion for weaving words around rich, authentic detailing began many years ago. With a strong belief in “happily-ever-after,” I set the first novel, No Greater Glory (a Romance Writer’s of America National Golden Heart finalist & book one in my four-book The Cutteridge series), in a time period I know so well: the Civil War years. My deep appreciation for American history allows me to utilize particulars of the past to draw my readers ever deeper into my storylines. For example, research such as …

Passementerie detailing

Passementerie — no Idle hands!
Oh, those wily Victorians … a lady’s time was never spent frivolously. Indeed, the order of the day was usually needlework! Trained from childhood, a well-bred Victorian lady used colored silk threads, or spun gold or silver cording to create tassels and braids, fringe or elaborate ruching. And she proudly displayed her passementerie on everything from her portières that hung in arched doorways, to the very day wear and ball gowns that adorned her body.
The word passementerie (French for edging) is a mighty big word and played an even bigger role in her life. Knowing the importance of such tasks helps to make my characters real. And yet, busy hands made for idle minds, especially for a lady. So, what did they think about while they were focused on their handiwork, one may ask? Well, since I’m a writer who relishes details of the past woven around conflict, I’m inclined to believe my heroine in my latest book was thinking about “falling in love” … or, rather trying NOT to fall in love with my hero … lol. ♥

What do you do in your spare time?
passementerie shuttles
My readers have given me the gift of my career, and meeting them at booksigning events and conferences is such a joy. Also, since my husband and I are well-informed of American history, we’ve had the opportunity to present programs coast to coast. More specifically, we focus on my knowledge of the Victorian fashions of the era and his expertise in military artifacts from the Civil War.  We been honored by the invitations to be keynote presenters with this very program at the Romantic Times Conference in Dallas, several major universities across America, and even all the way to the Historical Romance Retreat in Spokane, Wash. Other writing events, as well as research, also keeps me quite busy. And speaking of that, I’ll be at our local Barnes & Noble on December 17th, for a Christmas book signing. I do so love the holidays.

Do you write by the seat of your pants (pantser), or do you carefully plot your stories (plotter)?
Another great question!! I’m a pantser all the way … ’cause I write as I live … impulsively…lol.  And my stories evolve into a crazy life all their own. And, oh, the frustration felt when characters decide to go right when I want them to go left! Nonetheless, I’ve learned to listen to them, so I guess this complicated process does work for me. As master craftsman Dwight Swain said in his fabulous book Techniques of the Selling Writer: “One need know only four things in order to write a solid story: How to group words into motivation-reaction units; how to group motivation-reaction units into scenes and sequels; how to group scenes and sequels into story pattern; and finally, how to create the kind of characters that give a story life.” Yep, it’s just that easy. And just that HARD!

What are you working on now?
I’m currently crafting By Any Means, my final book in the Cutteridge series [although each novel does stand alone], which is scheduled to debut next summer. And researching an 1870 Kentucky setting, as well as the gambling riverboats that plied the mighty Mississippi and Ohio Rivers during that timeframe, is proving to be a sheer delight. Getting my characters to their “happily-ever-afters” is a hard-won journey, for sure. I welcome each and every new reader on board for the glorious ride! Please, pop in to my website at -- or – follow my facebook page (which I affectionately call my ‘Coffee Klatch’) at -- where I love to share daily historical tidbits, and so many other fun thoughts and things that embrace my historical romance writing days.  I truly hope to see everyone there!!

CONTEST!! And now, Paty, ‘tis my turn to ask your lovely bloggers a question! 

QUESTION: What is your favorite part of the holidays?
(I’ll drop the name of all who comment below into my lil’ wicker basket & draw out my winner in the morning who will be gifted with a choice of any of my books in whatever format she/he chooses.) 

Happy Holidays, everyone…Long Live Historical Romance.
About Cindy Nord: Say hello to Bestselling Historical Romance writer, CINDY NORD...the USA Today 'Recommended Read' author of NO GREATER GLORY, the #1 Civil War Romance at Amazon for over one full year, and book one in her four-book 'The Cutteridge' Series. WITH OPEN ARMS, book two, debuted in August, 2014, and zoomed straight to a #1 Bestselling Western Historical Romance. Book three, AN UNLIKELY HERO, made its debut July 1st, 2016, and by midnight hit the 'Top 100 Romances' list at Amazon. Book four, BY ANY MEANS, is due for release July, 2017. Cindy is also honored to be a contributing author alongside notable NYTimes writers in the delightful SCRIBBLING WOMEN & THE REAL-LIFE ROMANCE HEROES WHO LOVE THEM. All proceeds from this non-fiction anthology go straight to charity. She is a member of numerous writers groups, and her work has finaled or won countless times in competitions -- including the prestigious Romance Writers of America National Golden Heart Contest. Even PBS Television came calling to interview her regarding her love of writing. A luscious blend of history and romance, her stories meld both genres around fast-paced action and emotionally driven characters. Please join Cindy at her Facebook page for her Monday-thru-Friday morning "Coffee Klatch" -- as well as on Twitter at @cnord2. Indeed, true love awaits you in the writings of Cindy Nord.  

Cindy’s books:
Amid the carnage of war, he commandeers far more than just her home.
Widowed plantation owner Emaline McDaniels has struggled to hold on to her late husband’s dreams. Despite the responsibilities resting on her slender shoulders, she’ll not let anyone rip away what’s left of her way of life—particularly a Yankee officer who wants to set up winter camp on her land. With a defiance born of desperation, she defends her home as though it were the child she never had…and no mother gives up her child without a fight.
Despite the brazen wisp of a woman pointing a gun at his head, Colonel Reece Cutteridge has his orders. Requisition Shapinsay—and its valuable livestock—for his regiment’s use, and pay her with Union vouchers. He never expected her fierce determination, then her concern for his wounded, to upend his heart—and possibly his career. As the armies go dormant for the winter, battle lines are drawn inside the mansion. Yet just as their clash of wills shifts to forbidden passion, the tides of war sweep Reece away. And now their most desperate battle is to survive the war with their lives—and their love—intact.
Zip over here to read the opening:
A war-weary ex-soldier.  An untamable hellion.  Love doesn’t stand a chance in hell…
Hardened in childhood by the death of her parents, then left to run the family’s southwestern territory ranch when her brother rode off to fight for the Union years before, Callie Cutteridge hides her heartbreak behind a mask of self-sufficiency. Breaking horses for the army proves she’s neither delicate nor helpless. When a former cavalry officer shows up claiming to own her brother’s half of the Arizona ranch, she steels herself to resist the handsome stranger’s intention to govern even one single aspect of her life. After all, loving means losing…to her it always has.
For months, Jackson Neale has looked forward to putting the bloodstained battlefields back east behind him. Callie isn’t the agreeable angel her brother led him to believe, but he’s damned well not the useless rake this foul-mouthed hellion thinks he is, either. His quest for calm stability contradicts sharply with her need for control, yet still their heartstrings tangle. But how can these mistrusting partners transform their fiery passion into a happily- ever-after when all Callie knows how to do is fight…and all Jackson wants is peace?
ZIP over here to read the opening:

AN UNLIKELY HERO (for a limited time only .99¢ ):
 He’s a hard-as-stone army scout with a broken past...and she’s a reminder of all he’s lost.
Rugged army scout Dillon Reed has met his match in spoiled Boston debutante Alma Talmadge, but an unwanted assignment escorting the beauty across the wilds of America soon evolves into a journey of monumental change for them both. With killers hot on their trail, the odds of staying alive are stacked against them…and yet, falling in love was nowhere in their plans for survival.
ZIP over here to read the opening:  


CONNECT with Cindy via her SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:  
My webpage:
An Unlikely Hero buy link:
No Greater Glory buy link:
With Open Arms buy link:
Barnes & Noble NOOK link (With Open Arms) buy link:
Barnes & Noble NOOK link (No Greater Glory) buy link:
Barnes & Noble NOOK link (An Unlikely Hero) buy link:
Apple/iBooks (All Three Books) buy links:     
Facebook ‘Coffee Klatch’ site: