Happy New Year - Traditions -- a new review and thanks! J D Byrne's "Antrey Ranbren",

According to the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Eve (also known as Old Year's Day or Saint Sylvester's Day in many countries) is on 31 December which is the seventh day of Christmas.

In many countries, New Year's Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year's Day, 1 January.

Samoa, Tonga and Kiritimati (Christmas Island), part of Kiribati, are the first places to welcome the New Year while American Samoa and Baker Island in the United States of America are among the last

New Year's may be all about looking ahead, but there's something undeniably nostalgic about the holiday that falls at midnight on December 31. After all, the iconic tune "Auld Lang Syne" roughly translates to "old long since," or "times gone by." There are so many fun and interesting New Year's traditions that your grandparents probably practiced each and every year, from festive vintage decorations to classy cocktail party menus.

Here are a few. 1 Make New Year's Resolutions

It wasn't all tinsel and tipples for good old Gram. Making resolutions is perhaps the most popular New Year's tradition, but previous generations in particular practiced the art of goal-setting for the upcoming year.

2 ...And Actually Keep Them!

More importantly, your predecessors probably stuck to their goals. This year, we resolve to have the perseverance of our parents' parents.

3 Decorate a New Year's Tree

Who says the fun has to end after Christmas? The tradition of the New Year's tree goes all the way back to the 1600s, and you can easily transition your tannenbaum to suit the celebrations.

4 Look Sharp

"When you look at old photos of our parents and grandparents, you see that everyone is dressed nicely at big holiday gatherings," Lizzie Post, cohost of the Awesome Etiquette podcast, told us of Christmas parties back in the day. The same goes for New Year's Eve celebrations. Anyway, what better occasion is there to break out a cocktail dress or suit?

5 Toss Tinsel Everywhere

The sparkly streamers have lost steam in recent years, but there's just nothing like loads of the vintage holiday decor for adding glamour to your gathering.

6 Embrace Your Heritage

The way your grandparents commemorated the New Year might have something to do with your roots. In Scotland, New Year's Eve, or Hogmanay, as they call the last day of the year, is a bigger deal than Christmas ("Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish song, after all). The massive party goes on for days and incorporates age-old acts, such as first-footing: It's considered good luck to have a tall, dark man enter the home for the first time after midnight—bearing auspicious gifts of course (coal, shortbread, salt, and whiskey are common).

Germany has Bleigiessen, a "lead-pouring" custom, and the Irish apparently bang bread against the walls to beat off bad luck. You could also coordinate your undies to your hopes for the year (red for love, yellow for happiness, etc.)—a Latin American custom.

Start calling your Christmas tree a New Year's tree, as they do in Russia, dive into icy waters like in Konstanz, Germany, or similarly, participate in a Canadian-inspired polar bear plunge.

7. Eat New Year's Food

Yes, there are even New Year's Eve food traditions. Different cultures consider certain foods to be fortuitous for the New Year, especially when eaten right as the clock strikes 12. In Chili, it's lentils, while in Spain, it's 12 white grapes. In case you needed any excuse to indulge in donuts and pretzels, several cultures believe ring-shaped foods represent coming full circle.

And on New Year's Day, the traditional Southern spread consists of black-eyed peas and collard greens (symbols for wealth—coins and green folding money, respectively), ham or pork (for prosperity), and cornbread (for gold). We love our Louisiana Hoppin' John recipe, which incorporates all three.

8 Pray

It's fitting that the first day of the new year would have some religious significance, even if it has nothing to do with the calendar resetting. Some Christian churches (particularly in African-American communities) host "Watch Night" services, a tradition tied to the Emancipation Proclamation. For Catholics, January 1st, or the Solemnity of Mary, is a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning they have to attend mass on New Year's Day. However, knowing that revelers will be out late the night before, many churches offer a vigil Mass option on New Year's Eve as well.

9 Toast with a Traditional Drink

Sure, Champagne has become the drink of choice for New Year's Eve, but your grandparents might have clinked coupes filled with Wassail, a special cider-like punch with English origins, a "hot pint," the Scottish spin, or mulled wine, Holland's traditional drink, instead of the bubbly beverage.

10 Make Some Noise

There's a longstanding tradition of starting the New Year off with a bang. Only, instead of shooting guns, as was common in the American colonies, Grandma and Grandpa blew noise horns, rang bells (a nod to church bells), and set off fireworks (a Chinese New Year custom).

11 Give a Gift

In the past, the gift-giving season didn't stop at Christmas! Handing out gilded coins or nuts was an old Roman ritual, reports The Old Farmer's Almanac, but you could also give eggs for fertility, a Persian practice. Just as in their first-footing tradition, the Scottish apparently also traded shortbread, coal, and silverware, while Egyptians' specialty was earthenware flasks

12 Countdown and Kiss at Midnight

Okay, so people still do this, but the reasoning behind it bears repeating: "Kiss the person you hope to keep kissing," as the saying goes.

13. Sing Auld Lang Syne

14 Send Thank-You Notes

Grandma and Grandpa knew how to party, but they also knew their manners. Before you ring in the new year, close out the current one expressing gratitude for those who've made an impact in your last 12 months. Then, on New Year's Day, don't forget to send a quick handwritten thank-you note to the party host. Talk about getting things off to a good start!

Remember all my Facebook Friends and Supporters...

I choose the December winner by the start of January 1 and send a book or a bookmark to a lucky winner. So thanks for your support and look for the top 15 helpers. The first to inbox me with "I WOULD LIKE TO CLAIM MY AWARD" wins. All others get a 5 point headstart for January!

Two weeks ago I interviewed a J. D. Byrne, attorney and writer.

Today he brings a character.

1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

My name is Antrey Ranbren. I live in the city of Tolenor, in the household of Alban Ventris, clerk to the Grand Council of the Triumvirate. Antrey is the name my mother gave me; gods know why I keep it. Ranbren is the name given to all like me.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

I was born on the great circuit of Clan Kohar in the Neldathi mountains, on the north face of the Vander Range. That was about twenty years ago, but I don’t really know the details of my birth. Even the Speaker of Time for Clan Kohar probably never committed it to memory, given the circumstances of my birth.

3. How would you describe yourself?

My father was an Altrerian trader, my mother a Neldathi clansman. As a result I look like both of them, but neither of them at the same time. My skin is a pale blue, like the Neldathi. I have the height of my mother, as well, but my father’s slight frame. I keep my hair shorn close, to better blend in with the bald Altrerians. Not that I could ever blend in among any people.

4. Tell us about where you grew up.

I grew up with the clan in which I was born, travelling their great circuit, although I was never really welcomed as a part of them. When I was old enough to survive on my own I was left behind as the clan moved on. Eventually, I found my way from Tolenor.

5. How old are you?

As I said, I’m not quite sure because no one recorded the day of my birth, nor was it an occasion that anyone would celebrate during my youth. My best guess is somewhere in my early 20s.

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

That is an odd question to ask a Ranbren, but I suppose you don’t know. Children of mixed heritage – in less guarded moments they call us “halfbreeds” – are shunned by their clan. The Neldathi aren’t savages, no matter what you might have heard, so I was given the basic necessities of life when I was young, but there was no love, no affection, no belonging.

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

As I said, my relationships as a child were very perfunctory, based on a very limited sense of duty, nothing more. They left me very alone, very much aware that in this world, in the end, I’m the only one who can look after myself.

Alban, bless his heart, does his best to soften me. He took me in off the streets of Tolenor. I still don’t know why. He brought me into his home, taught me to read and write, and given me a purpose as his assistant in the Grand Council. He’s given me safety and stability.

8. What do you value above all else in life?

My journal. It is where I can share my thoughts, practice my words. I say things there I could never say to Alban or Onwen, his wife, or the girls. If they ever saw what I wrote sometimes, she’d send me back to the streets.

9. What are you obsessed with?

Alban’s books! His office in the Grand Council chamber is overflowing with books about every subject under the sun – history, philosophy, art, politics. When he taught me to read he told me I could read any book in his library, except for a few he keeps in a locked case on his desk. I like history the best, especially the books that talk about the Great Neldathi Uprising. It was more than a century ago but it feels like the Altrerians live in its shadow every day.

I wonder about the books in the locked case. I hope I’ll be able to see what’s in one of them sometime.

10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

My only belief is that life is about survival, you have to look out for yourself. I try and make life easier for Alban, in light of all he’s given to me, but in my deepest heart I know I do that mostly so he won’t decide I’m useless and send me back to the streets.

11. Biggest fear?

That this comfortable life I’ve made for myself comes to an end. It has to someday, yes?

12. What line will you never cross?

I will never sacrifice myself for someone else or for some glorious cause. The books are full of people who do this. Maybe they came into this world with more than I did. I think I’ve done enough sacrificing for one lifetime.

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Alban. The worst thing, more often than not I think, was being born in the first place.

14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

Just the other night, Alban took me to a reception held in honor of the opening of the new Grand Council session. Onwen was ill, so I went in her place. It was a nice gesture on Alban’s part, but I don’t think he fully grasped how the rest of Altrerian society sees me. At best, I’m little more than a trained pet. At worst, I’m a savage brimming with inherent violence. I was embarrassed for him, as much as myself, about the things they said. These were his friends, supposedly, and they said such awful things right to his face.

15. Biggest secret?

That I’m constantly afraid about what I’ll have to do to survive.

16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?


17. What is your current goal?

To make it through the Grand Council session without making mistakes or drawing attention to myself. I’m sure it will be as dull as ever.

Here's the blurb for The Water Road trilogy:

Two women are about to expose a terrible secret that will turn their world upside down. For centuries the great river known as the Water Road separated the Altrerians in the north from the Neldathi in the south. When the Neldathi clans united and struck out across the river, the nations of Altreria formed an alliance, the Triumvirate, to drive them back. For more than a hundred years after, the Triumvirate kept the Neldathi barbarians at bay, fighting amongst themselves across the Water Road. Antrey is a woman without a country, the daughter of a Neldathi mother and an Altrerian father. She’s found a role for herself in Tolenor, the headquarters of the Triumvirate, that's given her access to a secret the alliance has kept for generations. When she finds it, she explodes with rage and embarks on a quest to find justice for the Neldathi people. Strefer is a reporter without a story, desperately working the streets of Tolenor for any kind of lead. When Antrey flees the city, Strefer slips in and discovers her uncovered secret, stained with blood and fury. It’s the story of a lifetime, one powerful forces want to keep her from telling. With the help of a renegade Sentinel, Strefer sets out for a mythical city in hopes she can make the world listen to the truth. Together, they’ll inflame the passions of a people and set the world alight. For the first time in one package, the complete trilogy - The Water Road, The Endless Hills, and The Bay of Sins.

Here's a link to a review of the first book that I particularly like: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2323808671

L. Donovan 4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy successor to Voices in Crystal December 26, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Having previously read “Voices in Crystal,” I have to start this review off with a kudos to the author for what is likely the steepest rise in quality of writing and “fit and finish” that I’ve seen in indie publishing. While I enjoyed the first book in the “Children of Stone” series, this next volume stands head and shoulders above it.


Set after the events of “Voices in Crystal,” (duh), “Going Forth by Day” concerns itself chiefly with the day-to-day lives of Marai’s “wives” after his death. Split up and sent off with different royals of the Egyptian court, they each deal with their lives post-Marai in their own ways. My favorite was Arriennu, who seeks her own power over the powerful men through her…ahem…aggressive sexuality.

And given that this is the second novel in a series now up to four installments (and more to come), it should come as no spoiler that reports of Marai’s death were…flawed. Yes, he really did die, and yes he really is still an ongoing character, and yes that means that… well, just read it and find out for yourself.

Very much recommended to fans of “Voices in Crystal.”

Meet Mike Huard!!!

What made you want to be a writer?

I have this big love of sci-fi and fantasy. The aspect of writing lets me journey to far off places and is very relaxing and exciting.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

My newest book is called HOPE BRINGERS, and it’s the sequel to my hit novel Land of the Free. I also have 3 novellas out and all are available on amazon exclusively.

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

That’s up to the individual, I mean I read and play d&d and this helps in learning words and format aspects, but some people just tell a good story without doing either.

Do you remember the first book you read?

I think it was Planet of the Apes, loved it!

What book are you reading now? Red Rising

How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?

My series is called the Mystical Slayers, women who are freedom fighters in the 31st century. I wanted to create a strong sisterhood of elite martial artists set far in the future, each is enhanced and fantastic!

Which character do you identify with most in your novel?

Probably Chaya; she’s spiritual, a speaker of hope, yet tough and feisty!

How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The story is realistic, I have made it like a fallen America and many of the things you read are from visions of what we could become one thousand years from now.

To craft your works, do you have to travel; before or during the process?

I traveled to Washington DC. It’s there that the third book in the series takes place!

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write; example, music on or quiet etc. I need it quiet usually, though sometimes I do play some music.

What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?


Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

I think promotion is the hardest for an indie writer. I know the story is good, yet I still have to push it out there all the time when I would rather be writing the next book more.

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.

I had to commit fully to letting other things go. To be a writer you need all your attention on such daily.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

I find myself seeking certain people or pages online which combine with social media work. I seek the uplifting, inspirational ones.

How do you market your book?

I use social media, and have help with lots of other great writer’s and many really cool readers.

Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.

People tell me they really love the strong female stars of the series. That was and is the idea; to inspire and have people cheer for the sisterhood!

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

I give such to my wonderful editor Cat from England, and then to some super readers who get first crack at letting me know their thoughts.

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

I also teach self -defense and martial arts and have many female students. So signing their books is always so much fun. I tell them to be as strong as the women inside the pages!

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

The Mystical Slayers are a sisterhood of women who have faith, and who believe in a better world. They never stop trying to give hope to all around them. I would like others to feel that way as well.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

A group of amazing women!

Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet?

Why? I have met enough wonderful people already in my lifetime. To spend time with them is all I need.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love to play d&d, sit on the rocks overlooking the ocean, work out, and sing old school rock dongs, he he he.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Anything sci-fi and fantasy, Lost in Space, Lord of the Rings, stuff like that.

Favorite foods?

Jewish penicillin, aka chicken soup and warm cinnamon buns, oh yeah baby!

What’s your sign, lucky number.

Pisces and #7

What’s your favorite color.

Blue or black given my mood, than again sometimes I like green ha ha

What music do you hear in your latest book.

Great moody orchestra, battle hymns and action too.

Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

I would go insane, writing to me is a huge outlet, one I escape into and truly love.

You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

I would visit all the people I love and hold their hand. I would tell them life is a journey; an amazing voyage in time. Lastly, I would tell them to make memories and live well when I am gone.

What do you want written on your head stone?

Michael W. Huard Voyager in time

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?

Ha ha, yeah I defined the women so many times because I wanted to readers to see them like I do, ha ha.

What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors?

The best advice I ever got was to write like a mad man and block out all the noise!

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

My higher self

Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.)

Social media links and websites?

Facebook author page:


My novel Land of the Free and amazon links that it connects to:


My website:


It was November 2013. I had just self-published Voices in Crystal through Createspace and purchased 25 copies. My church was having a Christmas Craft Bazaar and I decided to try selling books there. I DID sell five books but much more importantly I met Kevin Chapman and aspiring indie author and leader of Cleveland Eastside Writers Group. There were about 6 authors who attended the group and read WIP's one Saturday a month, usualy in local libraries but on one occasion (pictured l-r Andi Lawrencovna, Karen Sipols, Edward Buatois, me, and Kevin) in Kevin's home. I thought it could only help. How right I was! They helped me write my second, third, and fourth books as well as some of the short stories I've published. We serve as critics and beta readers for each other's chapters and tough spots. Not all of us have published, but most of us are working on something that will be available soon. I thank them for the review I received. They didn't write it, but they helped me write something that was more attention-worthy than any previous attempts. THANKS!

Let's meet Margena Holmes!

What made you want to be a writer?

Having a story to tell waiting inside me! I had read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I wanted to be just like her. When I was younger I thought I was the reincarnation of her.

Tell us your book’s genre?

The Elixir Deception is a science fiction space opera

Tell us about your book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback etc.)

The Elixir Deception is the second in a series. It follows the trade of the Elixir to other planet systems, but there are pirates that want it as well. The first in the series, The Elixir War, is available on Amazon, and I expect The Elixir Deception to be as well.

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

I think it's very important. Even though you will have your own style of writing, it's important to see how others do it, to learn from them.

How did you come up with this fantastic idea?

I am a big Star Wars and Harry Potter fan, and those were popular stories and movies when I decided to write the first book, The Elixir War.

Which character do you identify with most in your novel?

Hmm, probably Samara, Jory's wife. She is level-headed, caring, strong, and I like to think I’m those things as well!

Did the Bible or other spiritual works have anything to do with your idea for this novel?

No, it did not.

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

Loyalty and friendship are very important.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

Marketing! As a self-published author, I have to market my books myself, and I'm an introvert, so talking to people is hard for me.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

I need quiet, with very little or no distractions from family. I usually write in the morning and afternoon. Once it gets past dinner time, I can't write. I get too fidgety and everyone is home from work and school.

What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?

Tea! I need my cup of tea, usually Lady Grey tea in one of my many nerdy mugs.

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.

I lost two of my writing buddies within a year. First was my friend Gordon Bailey, Jr. He passed away as I was getting ready to publish Dear Moviegoer. I had asked him to write the foreword for it, but he never got the chance. The other was my dog, Max. He used to lay on the floor by my desk while I wrote. I had a hard time getting back to my writing after both of those instances.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

I have many author friends on Facebook in the writers groups who can help with any problems I run into. They are great!

How do you market your book?

Usually through Facebook Promo groups, but also I send out postcards announcing my release, and my newsletter.

Has readers every contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.

No, I've never been contacted by a reader who wasn't already a friend.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

I have a great beta reader who has been awesome so far.

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

Oh, goodness! It was back in I think 2003 for my very first book, On The Line. It was at Barnes and Noble's New Writers Night in Long Beach, CA when we still lived there. It was me and three other authors. I was so nervous! I was expected to go first, but my family hadn't arrived yet, so they had another author speak first. I had no idea I was even supposed to speak until I got there! There were about twenty people total there.

My very first book release and signing I did on my own was for The Elixir War. I had it at my home for friends and family. I had my older son draw some planets that I hung around the house, and I believe we had pizza and made an elixir-type of drink to go along with the theme.

Some silly questions!

What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love to read (doesn’t every author?) I also love to scrapbook, decorate, and sing.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is.

My favorite food is a chili cheeseburger from Tommy's Original Burger. When we lived in CA, we'd drive from our home in Lakewood to L.A.(Rampart and Beverly) just for the burgers. My favorite color is purple!

Tell us your favorite novel?

This is a hard one. I guess if I had to pick, I'd say Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.

A live drama or the opera?

Live drama, or a musical.

Chips or crackers?

Chips, I love potato chips!

Hamburger or chicken sandwich?

Neither, unless it's the above mentioned burger from Tommy's.

Fries or onion rings?


Milk shake or smoothie?

Milk shake (chocolate in case you're wondering!)

Thunderstorms or star gazing??

Thunderstorms, from a distance. The ones we get in CO are really intense!

Kindle or paperback novels?

I prefer paperback, but since I have a pinched nerve in my neck, it's easier to hold a Kindle. Makes me sad...

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?

Yep, I "self-published" with a vanity press. I didn’t know any better at the time, as there was no Create Space or Smashwords or anything like that. I also didn't have a real editor. The vanity press I think just did a quick run-through with it, but I don't think they edited it.

What kind of advice can you give to other aspiring authors?

Don't be hasty, and make sure you get a good editor or at least a good beta reader to catch your errors. As good as you think you are, you will miss something.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

Several good people in my writers groups, mainly Ink Authors, Sparkly Badgers of Facebook, and Scifi Roundtable.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

The Elixir Deception is part of The Elixir Series. Right now I have planned three novels total and perhaps a novella, I may keep writing in this series as I like the characters. As I mentioned above, The Elixir War is available on both Kindle and paperback on Amazon. I also have a sequel planned for my non-fiction humor book titled Dear Moviegoer: Tales From Behind The Velvet Curtains.

Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book?

You can find me here:


Sometimes Love Stinks Kindle Edition by C.A. King 12-17-18


The Dragon's Secret: A Falk Clan Tale (The Falk Clan Series Book 4)C. D> Gorri 12-25-18


Dragon Chameleon: Rogue's Quest Kindle Edition by Sarah K. L. Wilson 12-26-18


COMING NEXT WEEK JANUARY 7 Old Rock Day Margena Holmes "Evalycer Nicholls

and D. C. Harrell

Releases and reviews See you then! If you would like to be interviewed for this blog, message me on Facebook:


I have openings starting January 28 and I post on a first come first served basis. Got a release or special promo? Let me know

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