Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
2. We copied each others recipes at the old kitchen table.
3. I watched the steam rising from the hot cup of coffee (or tea) and thought: Why am I doing this? I hate coffee and hot tea.
4. Everything is going to be okay.
5. I'll take a caramel frappuchino please.
6. The recession is far from over, at least from my point of view.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finishing my painting project, tomorrow my plans include cooking, cleaning, and laundry and Sunday, I want to pack for the trip!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Is easy to love? my granddaughter Lily is easy to love. She is the sweetest child and you just can't help but love her.
Do you just wanna smack? my neighbor Jerry. He needs to get it together before he loses everything he has.
Do you trust? My son David.
Do you talk to when you're alone? I call my daughter in law Regina
Dangerous things do you do while driving? I no longer drive. and yes it SUCKS!
Are you allergic to? sulfa drugs
Is Satan's last name? Wilkinson
Is the freakiest thing in your house?... my husband's grandmas ashes.... totally freaks me out even though they are in a box in the closet.
Is it time to turn over a new leaf? NOW
Will you be all that you can be? probably never, but I keep trying.
Is enough enough? it should be, but usually isn't.
Do you go to the dark side? not anymore..I used to dwell in the dark side quite often in my younger days, but I live on the bright side now.
Are your pants? in the drawer where they are supposed to be.
Is your last will and testament? in our filing cabinet filed away.
Is your junk food stash? in the kitchen junk food drawer.
Is Carmen Sandiego? at ACME Headquarters is located in San Francisco
Was the Lone Ranger alone? he had a tiny wienie and a slight seeing problem.
Was The Scarlet Letter scarlet? it matched her dress.
Are musicians sexy and plumbers not? strangely, yes
Are there no seat belts on school buses? because the school systems are just dumb about it. I have asked myself that same question for years. makes no sense to me at all.
Swim the English Channel for a doughnut and coffee? If not that, what? no way, and since I actually can't swim, I'd just be left out as usual. But , for, oh say $10.000.000.00 I would put on a life jacket and try.
Forgive someone who deliberately hurt you? I have done that. We must forgive others or it just makes you crazy.
Rather believe a lie if it hurt you less than the truth? no, I like knowing the truth, no matter how much it hurts.
You still be alive if you were sucked out of an airplane window? of course, not a scratch,lol. Seriously, if that happened, I would hope to be sucked right into Heaven. If I'm in the sky, I'm already close.
Play Sunday Stealing HERE.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
2. Burger King and Ronald McDonald met Colonel Sanders in a dark alley. They beat him down for just serving chicken and not sharing his "11 herbs & spices". The Colonel goes down. Begs for his life. Where do they go to eat afterwards? Pizza Hut
3. You take a shower, go to leave the bathroom and the door is stuck. Due to humidity and moisture it won't budge. It will not open. No one else is home. You can't go out the window. How long do you sit in the bathroom and how do you occupy your time? I would keep trying to get it open, and if all else fails..a long bubble bath would work.
4. You are a rockstar, but you need a cool rocker name. What is it and how did you decide on that name? Bella Daly and I let Rockstarnamegenerator.com do it for me.
5. Have you ever gotten naked at a family function? lol, no, but can't wait to see why someone did
6. If purple ate yellow, what color would come out? aqua
7. The closest paper and pen to you right now. What color are they? paper is white with green lines, pen is candy cane
8. Corn chips or potato chips? Potato chips, Lays BBQ
9. You are forced to swallow either a diamond or a piece of coal. Don't ask. Just do it. Which do you choose? the diamond... I would get to keep it in a few days after a good cleaning. The coal I would just flush.
10. If your mouse decided to attack your keyboard, who would win? my mouse would definitely win!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Overview of Astrology Basics
The transits of the planets and how they shape the different astrological signs are explained. The ruling planets, the elements, and the houses are expounded upon. The following concepts and how they affect everyday life are also taught: aspects, retrogrades, and eclipses. All of the information provided in this section is very basic, though. Do not expect more than a paragraph on each concept. This is not a book to reference for detailed information on how astrology works.
The authors have released "Tips for the Year" in advance. With their permission, below are some excerpts from their tips for each astrological sign for 2010.
Aries (March 21-April 19)- The full enterprising power of Aries is yours when you accept the limits of society that require more precision this year. Whether you like it or not, you must slow down to get what you want.
Taurus (April 20- May 20)- Your potential to transform your life is incredible this year -- but your resistance to change is equally great.Similarly, you will find happiness this year as long as you remain open to surprises.
Gemini (May 21- June 20)- Overcoming your own resistance to fully feeling your emotions enables you to uncover buried treasure that can enrich your life for many years to come.
Cancer (June 21- July 22)- Seek out those with talents you admire so that you can learn from the best. Step outside your comfort zone; you'll discover that it's not foolish to take risks. There are enormous rewards when you invest in your own excellence.
Leo (July 23- August 22)- It's true that this year brings great potential, but exhausting yourself trying to achieve the impossible dream is not a sensible strategy. Heed the counsel of wise friends and seasoned professionals before making any life-changing decisions.
Virgo (August 23- September 22)- Challenges to the core truths you cling to can be a source of irritation and a cause of physical, mental, and emotional fatigue. The battles you face, though, are not with outside forces but within yourself. It's time to reexamine the ideas that have kept your life in order for years, but may be holding you back.
Libra (September 23- October 22)- Your overall success during the coming years will be based on your ability to pay careful attention to your long-term goals rather than short-term successes.
Scorpio (October 23- November 21)- Surrendering some self-control to reveal your emotion can feel risky, of course, but it's a great way to open your heart and enhance your creativity. Making mistakes is not the road to failure but the laboratory of invention. You can surprise yourself by discovering new talents when you put away the heavy hammer of self-criticism.
Sagittarius (November 22- December 21)- Open yourself to new philosophies, learn about new technologies, and re-create your future by being more conscious in the present moment.
Capricorn (December 22- January 19)- Your journey this year could be one of extremes as the most visionary planets -- Jupiter and Uranus -- light up your life with exciting new perceptions while the most conservative ones -- Saturn and Pluto -- keep stepping in to turn down the volume of your enthusiasm.
Aquarius (January 20- February 18)- Don't waste too much energy resisting the inevitable. Instead, focus on the exhilaration you'll feel once you've overcome the obstacles and your life is heading in a new direction.
Pisces (February 19- March 20)- The highs and lows you experience this year accentuate the contrast between your greatest hopes and darkest fears. Expansive Jupiter in your sign makes your life seem so big that even the smallest act can appear to take on enormous importance.
Both authors, Rick Levine and Jeff Jawer, have been on radio and television programs throughout the United States and Europe. In addition, Rick Lavine is the author of Tarot.com's daily horoscopes, while Jeff Jawer is author of Tarot.com's weekly romance horoscopes. They are frequent lecturers and have written multiples articles and books. In the world of astrology, both are well-respected and sought after.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Initially told through a series of emails, letters and recipes, we learn about Val and Lilly and the power of friendship and food to enrich and nourish us. It is about these two girls who are friends and decide to start a "Recipe Club." They deal with issues of trust, love, anger and resentment between friends - you will definitely recognize yourself and your own friends in these two women. The book captivated me. I also enjoyed the way some 80 recipes were included, along with photos and illustrations.
YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK ... it is fantastic. You'll laugh and cry and miss the girls terribly when it ends.
You can buy the book here .
* I was sent this book to give an honest review and was not paid for my review *
Sunday, December 6, 2009
1. Would it be hard to kiss the last person you kissed? Not at all..wish I was kissing that person right now!
2. When is it hard to kiss someone? It is hard for me to kiss someone I am not going to see for awhile. I am not good at "goodbyes".
3.You're trapped in a room with your most recent ex for three days, what do you do? Pray.
4.Does it matter to you if your significant other smokes? No, He did for a long time, and quit just this year. Says he can't believe how much better he feels.
5. Have you ever regretted letting someone go? Yes, but that is water under the bridge.
6. Where would you go if you were butt naked and locked out of your house? To my next door neighbor Jerry's house. He is gay and could care less if I'm naked or not, lol.
7. Do you want to please everyone? I used to be a pleaser and still am to a certain extent, but am actually getting real good at saying NO.
8. Have you ever been called heartless? no, not to my face anyway
9. Someone calls you at 3:00 AM, who do you expect it to be? one of my kids
10. Does it matter if your significant other drinks? Yes, my dad was a drunk, my ex was a drunk..never again!
11. Could you go the rest of your life without doing drugs? I am of the older generation and have never done drugs, so I can definitely live without them.
12. Which is better, amazing eyes or an amazing smile? amazing smile
13. Do you want to get married and have children one day? been there, done that!
14. Are you easy to get along with? very easy to get along with
15. Do you ever want to go to sleep and not wake up? No
16. Are you shorter than your Mom? no, about four inches taller..my mom was 5'1"
17. Describe your life currently in one word: uncontrollable
18. Are you on medication for anything? Yes, I take 19 pills daily because I had a liver transplant last year..but some of those are vitamins
19. Who would you allow to read your thoughts for one day? Oh wow..this is a hard one..I guess my husband, because he usually knows what I'm thinking anyway.
20. Are there things in your life that you will never be able to get over? yes, but I try daily.
21. If you woke up naked next to the last person you kissed, what would your reaction be? oooohhhhh, funtime!
JOIN SUNDAY STEALING HERE!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Mom's Story : A Child Learns About MS
by Mary Jo Nickum
Millions seek success and happiness in other self-help books, But "The Source for MIracles" Shows readers the real secret is in the power of prayer that unites two billion Christians worldwide.
The Source of Miracles addresses challenges we face in modern life, with concise, practical advice and plenty of grace. It is the third novel in The Magdalene Line fiction series. This series is based on 20 years of research on four continents into the history of women in Christianity and their long-forgotten role in the development of global spirituality.
Page 21 How To Use This Book says it well. 'Caution:Committed use of this process can bring about happiness, abundance, and fulfillment beyond your wildest expectations. The subtitle of this book claims that the prayer will transform your life. It's a hefty claim, but I believe it is also an honest one. It is, in fact, the intention of the Lord's Prayer and the practice that surrounds it.But the key to your success with this practice is commitment'.
I would never have guessed that "traditional" Christianity would hold the secret to true wealth and true abundance. But to have true wealth and true abundance, one must go to the "source" and Kathleen's new book guides one onto this path ever so well.
I was very moved by this book and hope you will be as well.
You can order the book Here .
* I was sent this book to give an honest review and was not paid for my review *
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Also my nephew Keith (who was only 40) died yesterday...please help by praying for his family. His mom Martha is my ex sister in law, but I was in that family for 25 years and they are still my family. Even ex agrees with that.
Have a wonderful fun filled day.......Meemaw
Monday, November 30, 2009
From authors Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss :
The Winner of our ‘Fall in Love with Lonesome Prairie’ giveaway will receive a fantastic Montana Gift Basket, including:
Winter fleece throw
Huckleberry chocolate bar
Paula Dean candle
Burt’s Bees gift set
Wild Huckleberry taffy
Montana stationery notebook
Montana greeting card set
Montana ball cap
Montana refrigerator magnet
Charlie Russell 2010 Montana Calendar
To ENTER - click HERE
Here are 10 easy ways to greatly improve your digital photographs and avoid the pitfalls that are common with today's automatic cameras. Professional photographers Michele and Tom Grimm offer these and many more tips in their brand-new handbook, The Basic Book of Digital Photography.
1. Pay Attention to Composition.Too often a picture lacks impact because your subjects seem too far away. Move closer or zoom in to concentrate attention on your main subject and to avoid unwanted elements that are distracting. Make certain you see nothing in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen that you don't want in the final picture. Be especially alert for cluttered backgrounds. Finally, just before you shoot, check that the horizon appears level in your camera's viewfinder or on the LCD screen.
2. Vary the Format of Your Pictures.Cameras make pictures that are rectangular, not square, so you should remember to turn your camera vertically for appropriate subjects, such as portraits of people. In other words, don't be so lazy that you always hold the camera horizontally. Appropriately, horizontal images are in the format called landscape, while the format for vertical shots is known as portrait.
3. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot.If you used to shoot with a film camera, break the old habit of just making one or two exposures. The memory cards that are substitutes for film in digital cameras will hold hundreds of pictures and you can easily erase the images you don't like. So shoot away until you get the perfect picture. A big bonus is that you won't have to spend extra time at your computer fixing up mediocre shots with image-editing software.
4. Press the Shutter Release Button . . . Don't Jab It.More pictures are ruined because of camera shake than for any other reason. The main offense is jabbing or snapping your finger down on the shutter release (which jars the camera). It's easy to avoid blurred pictures: Just remember to arch your shooting finger and slowly press or squeeze the shutter button. Also, be sure to hold your camera with two hands to help keep it steady.
5. Shoot with Flash Outdoors.Pictures taken outdoors, especially of people and pets, are frequently better when you use your camera's built-in flash. That's because direct sunlight often causes annoying shadows on faces, particularly around the eyes. Flash "fills in" those shadows to provide uniform illumination and a more pleasing portrait. Also, to keep your subjects from squinting in bright sunlight, ask them to turn their backs to the sun. That puts their faces in shadow, which you'll then illuminate with the flash.
6. Memorize the Shooting Range of Your Flash.Although they are convenient, built-in flash units are not very powerful and underexposed flash pictures in dark places are often the result. To avoid underexposures (or overexposures) with your flash, memorize its operating range. How distant (or close) can your subject be for a proper exposure? The flash range of a point-and-shoot camera may only be 3 to 12 feet. Caution: the flash range will change as you adjust your camera's zoom lens; check the instruction manual.
7. Set a Higher ISO for Sharper, Non-blurred Images, and Greater Flash Range.Keep in mind that adjusting your camera's ISO to a higher number, such as ISO 800 instead of ISO 100, automatically sets smaller lens openings for more sharply focused images, as well as faster shutter speeds for stop-action, non-blurry pictures. It also extends the maximum distance range of a built-in or dedicated flash unit. Unfortunately, a very high ISO, such as ISO 1600 or 3200 (if available) may cause unwanted effects in digital images called artifacts. Take some test pictures at different ISO settings to compare the results.
8. Read and Reread Your Camera Manual (and our Digital Photo Book).Most new camera owners look at the instructions only once or twice, if at all. But modern digital cameras, whether point-and-shoot or SLR (single lens reflex) models, are not as simple as their advertisements suggest. Study the instruction booklet until you're familiar with all of the camera's buttons, symbols, and picture possibilities. If you lose the instructions or forget to bring them on a trip, log onto your camera manufacturer's Web site and download a copy of the manual.
9. Compose Pictures with Your Viewfinder, Not the LCD.Unless you're taking close-ups, it is easier, faster, and steadier to compose pictures by using your camera's viewfinder (if available) instead of the LCD screen. There is more support with the camera pressed to your face as you look through the viewfinder instead of trying to hold it steady at arm's length while composing subjects on the LCD screen. Also, you won't be bothered by bright light that makes it difficult to see images on the LCD.
10. Don't Let the Date and Time Deface Your Pictures.Make sure your camera is not set to automatically print the time and date of your shots on the front of your pictures; it will ruin their appearance. Besides, you should be aware that the time and date are embedded in every photo image file as hidden metadata that can be viewed at anytime with image-editing software on your computer.
Tom Grimm and Michele Grimm, authors of The Basic Book of Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Enhance, and Share Your Digital Pictures Author BiosTom Grimm and Michele Grimm, authors of The Basic Book of Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Enhance, and Share Your Digital Pictures, are a husband-and-wife photojournalism team who have spent nearly four decades traveling the globe; the couple has visited every continent and more than 130 countries in search of the perfect photographic image. Their photographs and articles have been published worldwide in magazines and newspapers and on the Internet. The Grimms are authors and illustrators of thirteen adult and children's books.For more information, please visit http://www.tomgrimm.com/ and you can purchase the book at Amazon .
Sunday, November 29, 2009
1. When is your birthday? August 12
2. Where were you born? Winston Salem, NC
3. Where do you live now? Holly Grove, AR
4. What is your heritage? Cherokee Indian, Irish
5. Tell us about a weakness. Terrified of creepie crawlies, especially spiders, and it aggravates me that I can't just kill them like everyone else. Just totally freaks me out to see one.
6. What's a goal that you'd like to achieve? Lose 100 pounds!
7. What is the most overused internet phrase? lol
8. What was your first thought this morning? woke up thinking of a camping trip I went on in 2003...I know, wierd
9. When do you usually go to bed? around 11 pm
10. Do you smoke? If not, did you ever? Never, don't know how and proud of it
11. Do you like your current relationship status? Love it
12. Do you (or did you) get along with your parents? I got along so-so with my Mom, and only saw my dad a few times in my life, so didn't know him. I ALWAYS disappointed my mom.
13. How often do you drink alcohol? I used to drink an occasional wine cooler or daqueri, but since my transplant, I don't drink at all.
14. Have you ever tried drugs (that weren't prescribed)? Nope, never.I'm older than most of you probably. Just never had the desire to.
15. Have you ever gone skinny dipping? If yes, do tell. Yes, when I was about 17 in a closed local pool where my boyfriend was the lifeguard..and yes...we did.
16. If given the choice, how would you like to die? in my sleep with no pain
17. What did you want to be when you grew up? a teacher
18. Have you ever been dumped? once...his loss
19. What's on your pizza? extra cheese, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and pepperoni
20. Have you ever shoplifted? when I was about 11...I stole a wallet from a local store..My mom took me there and made me give it back (SO embarrassing)...and I was never allowed to go in that store again..and was grounded to my room for what seemed like all eternity. But it worked ...I never did it again.
You can play along here.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
2. What is your fondest birthday memory? When my boys were about 11 and 12, they did my birthday "on their own" for the first time. They baked me a cake, bought me a pair of cheapie birthstone earrings (which I wore with pride), and gave me cards. It was special and still holds a place in my heart.
3. What names do you go by? Sandy, Saundra
4. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks? spending Christmas in AL at my son's house
5. Where is your least favorite place to be, and why? here, because I HATE Arkansas
6. Have you ever had a scary stalker type? never been that lucky, lol
7. What is your favorite holiday tradition? decorating the tree together, hanging the stockings, putting up outside decorations, cooking and baking on Christmas Eve, opening just 1 present on Christmas Eve (which is always some form of pjs), and mainly be with family.
8. What are two activities you do after eating Thanksgiving Dinner? clean the kitchen and relax
9. What did your family do for Thanksgiving when you were a kid? Do you still do it? If not explain why. My family had a huge dinner every year and lots of family members from everywhere came. After my grandma died, that stopped. We no longer have a family Thanksgiving because everyone lives so far away from each other. But we do get together at Christmas.
Play Saturday 9 HERE.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Touching Wonder -
About the book:
Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.
By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.
In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!
In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.
by John Blase
David C Cook/September 2009
To listen to or download the program, visit www.ureadbooks.com/touchingwonder.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
2. Where was your first kiss? In the back of a movie theater when I was about 12 or 13, and it must have been his 1st time also, because he almost sucked my bottom lip off, lol.
3. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex? If yes, why? yes, because he hit me first...and last. (long story and many yrs ago)
4. Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people? When? yes, in church as a teen
5. What's the first thing you notice about your preferred sex? his butt, his abs and his eyes
6. What really turns you off? pain
7. What is your biggest mistake? marrying the abuser in question #3
8. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose? no, not physically anyway
9. Say something totally random about yourself. I cannot blow bubbles with bubble gum.
10. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? nope
11. Do you still watch kiddie movies or TV shows? not unless the grand kids are here
12. Are you comfortable with your height? yes
13. What is the most romantic thing someone of the preferred sex has done for you? made me a candlelit dinner on what had been a terrible day..he bought a "waves" cd and we danced on the patio with our eyes shut pretending to be back at the beach. Most romantic night of my life.
14. When do you know it's love? You just know...you feel like a teenager again and you tingle when he looks at you, and well....you just know.
15. What's something that really annoys you? liars and rude people
Saturday, November 21, 2009
1. Has anyone in your life talked in their sleep? Yes, my hubby does when he is very tired
2. What do you like about fall? the changing colors of the trees, the cooler temps, and football
3. Do you have an addictive personality? sadly, yes I do. But not for drugs and alcolhol, but for food, and other things.
4. Who was the last person to do something extra special for you? My hubby does something special for me almost every day, seriously.
5. Would you ever take someone back if they cheated on you? NO
6. Are you happy with where you are in life? no, not at all, but can't do a lot about it right now
7. Do you believe that you can change someone? no way, I can only change myself
8. Have you ever wished you could've had someone but you couldn't? back in my younger days, but not for a long long time
9. Would you ever fight someone over your significant other? no, if he wants her more than me...he should go. His loss!
Join The Saturday 9 HERE.
I love this photo. I was sitting in the car downtown one day and this pigeon came walking by like he was showing off to the duck in the picture in the window.
I found a recipe for Potato Corn Chowder over at Temma's blog Honey Never Spoils . It was fantastic! My hubby and I both ate two bowls for lunch. Please go over to her blog and try this! You will be glad you did.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
2. Are you good at billards? I used to be in my younger days, haven't played in years.
3. Does anyone on the planet really want to see Levi Johnston naked in Playgirl (other than when Bristol Palin did)? Not Me!
4. Is your phone ringing right now? nope, hardly ever rings :(
5. Do you think man has eaten or tried to eat every type of animal on the face of the earth at one point or another? If not, what don't you think man has tried? Man has probably tried everything
6. The new movie Avatar has been showing sneak peeks and been hyped to the max. Will you see it? Not sure, I'll probably wait for the DVD and rent it.
7. If a slightly bigger fish eats a small fish, then a bigger fish immediately eats that one, then an even bigger fish immediately eats that fish and then finally a huge fish eats the one that just ate that fish and it gets caught by you... how many meals will you have from that one fish? "1"
8. If you had an appointment with the doctor and all the plants in the office were dead, would you still see the doctor? Yes, and I would not having a problem asking him if he needs someone to come in twice a week to take care of them. I could use the extra money!
9. Have you ever seen the number 666 in a dream? Nope but in many other scenarios.
10. "At 20 years of age the will reigns, at 30 the wit, at 40 the judgment."~ Benjamin Franklin
So what happens at 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100? Well, I can tell you for sure that at 50 worry reigns. Worry that 60, 70,and 80 may not come. And worry that I won't have enough money to live on if they do.
11. Would you want your phone number to be (area code) 123-4567? No, every jokester in the area code would call. But, hey, my phone would actually ring then, so maybe....
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I instantly knew what had happened: the new Dan Brown book had been announced.
This was to be the start of nearly five months of manic preparation and debate. Clues and hints would be given out, opinions bandied about, and crazed supposition would fill thousands of web pages. However, let's wind back the clock to the publication of Brown's previous Robert Langdon thriller, The Da Vinci Code, in 2003.
Back then, Dan Brown was a semisuccessful author of several thrillers, one of which was the first Robert Langdon novel, Angels & Demons, published in 2000. Sales had been average to poor, and Brown's publisher decided to take a gamble with The Da Vinci Code, sending out ten thousand free copies to bookstores and their book buyers, reviewers, and trade professionals. The plan worked, and soon sales really began to take off.
At the time, I was the editor in chief of a U.S.-based newsstand magazine called Phenomena. The Da Vinci Code was starting to cause quite a stir within the alternative-history genre that I inhabited; in fact, several authors that I had worked for as a researcher had their work credited as source material for Brown's book. (Phenomena even ran an article "casting" the movie version of The Da Vinci Code, should it ever come to pass. For the record, not one of the actors we thought would be so terrific in the roles of Dr. Robert Langdon, Sir Leigh Teabing, and the book's other characters was cast for Ron Howard's 2006 film starring Tom Hanks.) Eventually a small London publisher approached me about writing a short guide to The Da Vinci Code. The book, Cracking the Da Vinci Code, went on to become an international best seller in its own right. I subsequently wrote Illuminating Angels & Demons, a companion to Brown's other Langdon-based novel.
Intriguingly, the dust jacket of the U.S. hardcover edition of The Da Vinci Code seemed to contain clues hinting at the next novel in the series. This fascinated me, and I found out all I could about these clues and the secrets that they potentially held.
Time passed, and rumors began circulating that a title had been chosen. The new book was to be called The Solomon Key -- an apparent reference to a medieval book on magic with the same title. Impatiently, I began researching all that I could about this centuries-old text, which supposedly was written in Italy during the Renaissance but claimed a lineage that went all the way back to King Solomon himself. Perfect material for a Dan Brown thriller, I thought. Brown's publishing team registered a new website, solomonkey.com, and everything seemed poised for the new book to arrive soon.
More time passed . . . and more time passed . . . and still no definitive word about the new book, though plenty of fresh rumors abounded: Brown had scrapped the book; there would be no follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. Brown, exhausted from having fended off a high-profile copyright-infringement lawsuit in London, had decided to take an extended break from writing. It was even claimed that the 2004 movie National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage as a treasure hunter seeking a mysterious war chest hidden by the Founding Fathers, had stolen so much of the forthcoming book's thunder that it required a complete rewrite. The unsubstantiated allegations were completely fanciful, of course, but they replicated over and over like a virus on the ever-conspiratorial internet sites that monitored the story, sending the rumor mill into overdrive.
Then came the 2009 London Book Fair. Only a couple of months before, I had predicted to my UK publisher that the announcement would indeed be made at the London event. More in hope than expectation, it has to be said, but accurate nonetheless.
A press release was handed out by Brown's publishers, and suddenly a new title presented itself. The Lost Symbol, to be published on September 15, 2009. What could such an enigmatic title mean? What was lost? Which symbol? The race was on, the game was afoot, and I rushed headlong into research-and-reading mode. What you hold in your hands before you is the outcome of that labor.
Before long, a new website appeared, at http://www.thelostsymbol.com/, though nothing but a holding page was evident for quite a while. Then, out of the blue, the site added links to a Dan Brown Facebook page and Twitter feed. Excitement grew to fever pitch, as thousands of people became Facebook and Twitter followers of Dan Brown overnight.
Steadily, these new media outlets began to reveal tantalizing clues and tidbits of story line. With each revelation, I furiously took notes and researched everything I could find. It was as if a whole new world were opening up. It was a cornucopia of material, and I started ordering more new books for my library to cover some of the subjects mentioned.
Some of the clues actually gave coordinates to several locations, such as the so-called Bimini Road. This unusual underwater structure off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas is claimed to be a man-made edifice and a remnant of the lost island of Atlantis. I had spent two summers on Bimini a number of years back as part of my research for a book about Atlantis. "Great," I thought, "now I have a head start on some of the material." Coordinates were also given for the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last standing wonder of the ancient world and another place with which I was intimately familiar. Then there were coordinates to Newgrange in Ireland, a monumental passage tomb built around five thousand years ago. The stone structure is famous for its alignment to dawn on the winter solstice, when a narrow beam of light briefly illuminates the floor of the chamber. I had just visited Newgrange with the author and Freemason Chris McClintock.
Possible adversaries and secret societies were hinted at. Ciphers, codes, and cryptograms were revealed. Historical figures were mentioned. It was all adding up to a furious game of who could be first to reveal the answers to the clues. Websites sprang up detailing the background and history of some of the people, places, and groups being mentioned. It was an internet feeding frenzy.
Then I remembered something: Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, a character from The Da Vinci Code, whose name had a hidden meaning. Aringa is the Italian word for "herring"; rosa means "red." Dan Brown liked to throw multiple red herrings into the mix. I began to look at the Twitter and Facebook clues in a new light. What if many of these were indeed red herrings? What if I were immersing myself in subjects that weren't included in the published book? That's when I stopped even looking at the Facebook and Twitter pages. After all, everything would be revealed on the day of publication, September 15.
Even this date, we were told, was part of the puzzle; chosen specifically for the book's release. I began to check almanacs, history books, websites, conspiracy theorist blogs, but found nothing. Then it hit me: 09.15.09; 9 plus 15 plus 9 equals 33. So it was true. The Freemasons, and specifically Scottish Rite Freemasons, would be a central theme of the book -- something that had been hinted at on the dust jacket of The Da Vinci Code years ago.
Then, before I knew it, publication day arrived. I began reading The Lost Symbol furiously. When I finished some twelve hours later, I realized that my suspicions had proved correct: many of the clues leaked over the previous months on Dan Brown's Twitter and Facebook pages were indeed aringarosa -- red herrings. There was no Morgan affair; no Aaron Burr; no William Wirt (and the strange story of his skull); no Knights of the Golden Circle; no substantial mentions of Albert Pike; no Benedict Arnold; no Confederate gold; no Babington plot; no Alexander Hamilton and the origins of the New York Stock Exchange; no Sons of Liberty; no Lost Colony of Roanoke; no Robert Hanssen, the U.S.-born Russian spy; no Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.
Cleverly, there was no Key of Solomon, either. Instead we have a family with the surname of Solomon, who hold the keys to the eventual outcome. The Great Pyramid figures in the story, though not prominently and not in the context that many had thought.
Dan Brown and his publishers had managed to pull off something of a coup, keeping the plotline of The Lost Symbol pretty much under wraps until the day of publication (although a couple of U.S. newspapers did print reviews the day before, in defiance of the publisher's embargo). It was an amazing feat, especially considering that the book's print run exceeded five million copies, and it guaranteed Brown a huge amount of media and public attention.
So: what did we end up with? Is The Lost Symbol a worthy successor to Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code?
The Lost Symbol is, in the end, a pretty good thriller that keeps Robert Langdon on his toes and involves some big themes and historical enigmas. However, it's the deeper, more hidden elements of the book that I believe will have the most impact over time. Between the lines of the novel, Dan Brown has attempted to write something akin to a hidden Hermetic text. It's a bold and ambitious undertaking, and one that I applaud him for. Indeed, the last ten chapters of the book and the epilogue are more or less an extended treatise on Deism, Hermetic thought, and religious tolerance.
The Freemasons are the secret society of choice this time around. I'm sure that there will be those who see Freemasonry as a covert, sinister movement intent on power and blasphemy. I see it rather differently. I am not a Freemason, nor will I ever be one. But I do know many Freemasons. Indeed, Ian Robertson, one of the chief researchers for this book, is a Freemason, as is my friend Chris McClintock, author of the soon-to-be-published Sun of God book series on the origins of the Freemasonry and its symbolism. Neither of them is in any way sinister, nor are the countless other Freemasons that I know and respect. I like the stance that Dan Brown has taken with Freemasonry within The Lost Symbol. Many commentators thought that the Masons would, in effect, be portrayed as the "bad guys," but this is not the case. In fact, Brown makes a convincing argument for Freemasonry being a tolerant and enlightened movement with some interesting and forward-thinking ideas.
While it should be said that Freemasonry is a secretive society, it is not a secret society.
Membership is easy to research and find out about, and most members are not shy about letting you know that they are within the craft, as it is called. Since the heyday of Freemasonry in the eighteenth century, it has attracted men of a certain social standing and, to an extent, still does. But the group has become more welcoming as of late, and I hope that this trend continues.
One of the things I wanted to get across within some of the entries of this book is that maybe it's not Freemasonry we should be wary of -- instead maybe we should fear the real secret groups and societies of which we know very little or nothing. Then again, maybe we are simply chasing shadows, wisps of rumor and supposition that have tormented us for millennia; a fear of secret and hidden things that, in the end, may not be that secret or hidden after all. Another thing worth noting is that although many of the people mentioned in this book were not Freemasons (Pierre L'Enfant springs to mind), or at least we have no evidence that they were, they would have been intimately familiar with the society and its workings. Many of their contemporaries and peers would have been members, and the craft would have been all around. It seems likely, for instance, that Thomas Jefferson, though we have no direct evidence of his membership in a Masonic lodge, did have sympathies with the Masonic ideals of brotherhood, enlightenment, and religious tolerance.
Once again, like my previous guides to Dan Brown's books, this book is laid out in an easy-to-read A-to-Z format. There are some sixty entries in all; fewer than in previous guides. This was deliberate, as I wanted to give you a much more in-depth took at some of the themes, places, people, and groups featured in the novel.
The BBC in the United Kingdom once called me "a historian of the obscure," a title that I like very much indeed. I have aimed to bring you some of that history of obscure and hidden subjects within the pages of this book. If you feel the urge to look deeper and delve further into some of the interesting subjects highlighted here, take a look at the bibliography and start building your own library of esoteric and arcane subjects. Just make sure that you remember to sleep and eat while familiarizing yourself with the ancient mystery traditions -- it's an addictive pursuit but also a very rewarding one, and one that I hope many of you will undertake.
If you want to talk about, debate, or extol any of the subjects in this book or the novel itself, head over to my website at http://www.decodingthelostsymbol.com/, where you will find a forum for debate and articles and blogs. If you want to contact me directly about any of the issues raised, I have my own Facebook page under my name and can be found on Twitter too (@FindSimonCox).
Writing this book was a lot of fun, and it has given me a newfound respect and admiration for the men who founded a new and fledgling nation in America, at the end of the eighteenth century. As a British writer and historian, it's a period of history that I was not that familiar with and I have really enjoyed the research and subsequent writing about this tumultuous time. The Founding Fathers really were incredibly enlightened and forward-thinking men, who guided the formation of a republic with steady hands and an unwavering resolve. I will forever look at them, and this period of time, in a brand-new light from now on.
I hope you enjoy Decoding The Lost Symbol, and find its contents enlightening and interesting. I pass it on to you with the hope that you will find it as fun to read as it was to write.
Simon Cox Bedford, United Kingdom September 2009 The above is an excerpt from the book Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction by Simon Cox. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2009 Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction
Author BioSimon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction, was the founding editor in chief of the successful newsstand magazine Phenomena. Having studied Egyptology at University College London, he went on to work as a research assistant for some of the biggest names in the alternative history game, including Graham Hancock, Robert Bauvel, and David Rohl. He splits his time between Britain and the United States.
You can visit his website at http://www.decodingthelostsymbol.com/.
You can buy 'Decoding The Lost Symbol' here .
I am also giving away one copy of Decoding The Lost Symbol. You MUST be a follower of my blog. Leave your email so that I can get in touch with you if you win.
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* I was sent this book to give an honest review and was not paid for my review *
1. Tell us about your superstitions. Do you have any? Do you "x out" black cats on the windshield of your car, avoid cracks in the sidewalk or practice other rituals that make you feel safer?
I do not walk under ladders, Yes - I cross out black cats in the road, and that is about it. My grandfather raised me and was VERY superstitious. We were not allowed to play games with dice like monopoly, because dice brought bad money situations to the home, and we could not have an aquarium because live fish in the house brought bad luck.
2. Has anything paranormal ever happened to you that you can write about? Yes. My mom used to always brush my hair and play with my hair even when I was grown. She always said when she died she would try to come back and let me know she was ok by being a beautiful yellow butterfly. For months after she died, I could feel the air get cold in the room and I would feel something touch my hair. It didn't scare me, because I knew it was her. When I went to the cemetery, which wasn't often because I lived a state away, a yellow butterfly would always fly around me. It made me a true believer in the afterlife.
3. Have you ever had a near-death experience? I haven't had the kind you see on tv, but I was told last Nov that I only had two or three weeks to live as I was in end stage liver failure and they could not do anything else for me. I received a new liver on Nov 10. So that was my near death experience. It changed the way I think about 'everything'.
4. Pheromones...aka "love fireworks" (I think I remember those)...are a force to be reckoned with. Do you believe that two people can have an uncontrollable chemical reaction to each other? How do you know this to be true? Yes, I do because I had that with my hubby (#2). I did not have that with #1.
5. Do you believe that modern day witches can put spells on people?
If so, who would you like to hoodoo and why? I'm not sure but if it is so, and you are a witch..I have a very abusive ex who needs to be turned into a toad or a pig or something.
6. ESP! What do those letters stand for in your life? Extra Special People
7. Do you ever hear strange noises in your house? nope
8. Tell us about a time you "knew" something was going to happened before it did. Are you one of those intuitive types or do you know someone who is ? Do tell. See #9.
9. I'm a tad gifted in the dream department. Really. Sometimes my dreams are prophetic and come true. It can be a blessing and a curse. Has this ever happened to you? If not, would you like to have this gift? (Be careful what you wish for. It can be freaky at times.) My #8 and #9 are the same answer. I also am a tad gifted in the dream dept. My first mother in law died two weeks after I had a crazy funny dream about her death. I dreamed she was dead but we couldn't bury her because she would not quit talking. Seriously! Then the same mother in law came to me in a dream and all she would say is "Call David". David is my oldest son. So I called and he had been attacked and his home broken into a few minutes before I called.
I am so glad this was the theme for today.. I am a believer and most people just think I am crazy!
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