A Chat With the Author of A Plague of Flies

A Chat With the Author of A Plague of Flies

Award-winning YA author, Laurel Anne Hill returns with her latest historical fantasy, A Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits,1846. Needless to say, it’s going to be an unforgettable adventure you don’t want to miss out on. Laurel explores her family history and finds a fantasy-filled story of a brave sixteen-year-old, Catalina. Read more about her experience and your soon-to-be-favorite book, A Plague of Flies.

Hi Laurel, you released your latest historical fantasy last month, A Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits, 1846. Could you tell us about it? 

Available on Amazon

In 1846 Alta California, Catalina Delgado daydreams about her future: roping cattle, marrying Angelo Ortega, and raising children. But now, invaders from the United States—the Bear Flaggers—have declared war against Mexico, her country. Bear Flaggers have imprisoned one close friend of her family and murdered others. What fate might befall her parents, grandfather, and younger brothers? And what about her best friend, a Costanoan servant girl? How can Catalina, only sixteen, help protect all those she loves?

The spirits provide Catalina with answers, but not the ones she wants. Plus she fears the strange spirit man who rides a black Andalusian stallion through the sky. For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina must risk her reputation as a chaste young woman, her future with Angelo, her life, and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.

Why did you choose to write about 1846 Alta California?

At the time I made the choice, I still believed my paternal great-grandmother, Hipólita, had lived there during the 1840s. I thought my Mexican family had lost their land to the United States as a result of the Bear Flag Rebellion in 1846. Then I discovered they’d not come to California until the late 1850s or early 1860s. Once in California, they’d been taken advantage of in some other manner, possibly by one of the US railroads.

What is the one thing about Catalina Delgado that your readers are instantly going to fall in love with?  

Catalina, a young mestiza, has ideas of her own about her personal future, including who she wants to marry. Without sisters, she competes with her four younger brothers for approval. She is not afraid to ride astride (instead of sidesaddle) and can rope longhorns almost as well as her father’s vaqueros do. Regardless, Catalina remains closer to being a sixteen-year-old woman of her time than to becoming some bigger-than-life kick-ass heroine. She wishes to honor members of her family—even when she doesn’t agree with them—and her Catholic faith. Yet she finds herself questioning aspects of both her faith and her family. 

What can you share about the Spirit Man that your potential readers don’t know yet?  

Spirit Man is a complicated being, far more than just a scary character. He has taken the shape of others in the past, and presumably, will do so in the future. Spirit Man has the capacity to serve as a loyal friend or become a terrifying opponent. 

Is there a heart-warming review or comment you received for A Plague of Flies that you’d like to share with us?

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2021: In her second YA novel that’s set in a magical-realist 19th-century California, Hill gives readers a wonderfully imaginative, unsettling view of events leading up to the 1849 gold rush. Many narratives emphasize the excitement of this time and California’s newfound wealth, population growth, and influence, but this book foreshadows the disasters—starvation, slaughter, dispossession—inflicted on Indigenous people. It’s a theme that could become heavy-handed, but Catalina’s passionate teenage energy gives propulsion to the dramatic plot.

At what point during the research of A Plague of Flies did you have the sequence of the story plotted? 

Not until I finished the first draft, over ten years after starting my project. Please understand, however, that the hiatus between finishing the first half of draft number one and starting the second half amounted to five of those ten years. I wrote the second half of the initial draft in three months. 

What do you enjoy writing the most – historical fantasy or science fiction? Why? 

Historical fantasy. I love to delve into the history of a setting, and fantasy gives me a fair amount of freedom in world-building. Besides, I worked most of my adult life in the field of science or science technology. Although I write occasional science fiction or science horror stories, doing fantasy returns me to a special place I loved as a child.

Rapid Fire time. Answer the following questions with the first thing that comes to your mind. 

Laurel Anne Hill

A preferred writing snack:  

Morning: Coffee with caramel-flavored creamer.
Evening: A glass of wine.

What was the last soundtrack you heard?  

The opera, “Mefistofele” (by Boito), with Luciano Pavarotti singing the role of Faust.  “Mefistofele” is my go-to inspiration when I need “big sound” to deal with one hell of a challenge.  

Countryside or the beach:

These days, the countryside. For most of my life, the beach.

Tea or coffee: 

Coffee with caramel-flavored creamer.

Kittens or puppies:

Puppies. I love kittens, but cats interfere with my ability to breathe. (Ah-choo!)

Your biggest pet peeve is…:

Spam telephone calls.

Your favorite movie of all times:

The original “Star Wars!” 

Dames Handsome Brings You the Fairy Knights

Dames Handsome Brings You the Fairy Knights

If you’re a parent or teacher of middle graders, you’d know how challenging it is to get them to read. Equally difficult is finding books that can entertain and inspire kids to grow into empathetic human beings. We met with an author who writes stories that kids love reading to not only have fun but to learn from. Dames Handsome is a father, teacher, and excellent author of the most-loved book series, the Fairy Knights. Here’s Dame’s story in his own words.

Hi Dames, how does one come up with such a cool name as Dames Handsome?

From my students! Here in Korea teachers are addressed by their last name and then the word teacher. My actual last name sounds a lot like Handsome so they started to call me Handsome Teacher. And then the Dames part is an old high school nickname so when it came to me making my pen name I found that really it had already been made and it was just waiting for me to pull out and dust off to be made official.

Why did you decide to write children’s books? 

I didn’t haha. All of this started when I sat down with my wife and son to play a role-playing game that I’d made. It was an awesome time and afterward, I realized that I wanted to remember it all forever. So I wrote it all down. And then after it was down I decided to make a story out of it for my son. I adjusted this and that to make it into a real kids’ story. One that I also torqued to teach him a lesson, as all good kids stories do. I read it to him and he loved it. Then it sat on my computer for months. I shared it with some people here and there and they loved it as well. So, finally, I decided that I should “make it real” and publish it. And so it all began.

How did Fairy Knights come to life? 

When I asked my friend Warwick, who teaches people how to be Kindergarten Teachers, to read it and how much it would cost me for him to make a cover for me. He read it and got back to me and asked if he could make pictures for the inside as well. I really can’t imagine the series without him. Our partnership really makes these books snap and I’m so happy to be working together.

What are the unique “superpowers” each of the Fairy Knights possess?

I’ll start with everyone’s favorite, Hamster Rick. He’s a hamster pet that my son named after one of his teddy animals. But rather than being all fat and round like most hamsters, he is super strong and he is incredibly chiseled. A handsome hunk of hamster.

The viewpoint of the series so far has come from Ching Goo and his school’s specialty is changing shapes. Depending on how much Magic Mana he uses, he can become about anything he can imagine. And he has a few more magic tricks up his sleeve as well. He can make himself travel very quickly, he can become super strong, he can make people believe that he is famous, and he can be very lucky. He has to be careful, though, because all of those spells cost mana and if he runs out he can’t cast any more magic for the rest of the day.

And of course, we have Oma Bell, the responsible voice of reason. She is an arcane spellcaster which means she can do powerful spells if given enough time to cast them. But more often she uses her fairy dust to create small but immediate magical effects. She can fly and she also has a mean right hook so you don’t want to mess with her. She has some more spells as well that are more specialized. Her super-smart spell makes her twice as intelligent and she can use magic to become about the cutest kid you’ve ever seen or talked to.

How have Ching Goo, Oma Bell, and Hamster Rick grown from one book to another?

At the very start of the series, Ching and Oma were just besties who liked to hang out, and Rick was Ching’s familiar, an animal pet that bonds with their owner to become something very special. But by the time the fourth book has come, we see that Rick has become a full-fledged hero in his own right and is even enrolled at Boogie Elementary School. Oma and Ching have gone through a lot together and Ching has become more mature, responsible, and kind. He has overcome the fear of being no-good, the complexities of jealousy in friendship, and he has more realistic expectations of himself and his friends. He is no longer quite so silly and headstrong. And Oma has let herself loosen up a bit. She has learned that while her ideas and plans may be brilliant, they are always better as a team. It is actually a lot of fun to chart out their lives as they go from book to book, and yet a little sad at the same time because they grow alongside my son, and each little success and every little bit of maturation means he himself is getting that much older and wiser, and that much less of my little baby boy. 

Could you share one heart-warming comment you received from a reader recently?

A father told me that his daughter was all excited about the series and kept talking about how she was going to be super good so she could level up and be a hero. That really made me laugh and smile.

What is the one lesson you’d like your little readers to learn from the Fairy Knights books?

That it is okay and natural to feel anxious, scared, and not as good as the others. And that everyone else feels that same sense of doubt and unworthiness. It is a natural part of growing up and it is okay to feel it and to talk to people about it.

Rapid Fire time! Answer the following questions with the first thing that comes to your mind. 

Dames Handsome

Morning person or night owl

Night owl

Kindle or audiobook


Panda or koala


A preferred writing snack

Sour gummies

Your favorite movie of all times

Free Guy

Do you still have your favorite book from childhood? 

I don’t but that’s because it wore through!

What’s next?

Warwick has told me that the next one needs to be something special and different. So we are working on an anthology of 5 stories told by different characters within the series. But that won’t be out until at least January due to the Holidays.

4 Simple Ways to Host Your Holiday Parties on Your Patio

4 Simple Ways to Host Your Holiday Parties on Your Patio

A patio is a great place for party hosting, not only in the summer months but also for the holidays. You can get things set up well out there for a special time with your family and friends. There is nothing like a good holiday party, and these ideas for the patio will make it your best one yet.

1. Take All Your Decorations Outside

When you are hosting your holiday party outside that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on decorating but you can do that on the patio. Buy decorations that are made for the cold and bring out some of those you already own that will withstand the elements. You can even put up a tree on the patio or use one that is standing in your yard for all your ornaments. Decorate the patio with plenty of twinkling lights and it will be a beautiful place to host your holiday party.

2. Invest In Outdoor Heaters To Keep Everyone Warm

One of the most important things to do before hosting a holiday party on your patio is to invest in some quality outdoor heaters. You want everyone to feel comfortable while on the patio, and if you place the heaters all around, then they will stay that way. You can buy as many as are needed for the area. If you have a large patio, then space the heaters and firepits out so that everyone can feel the heat. The warmth that comes from them will create a great atmosphere and make everyone enjoy the time outdoors during the holidays.

3. Plan For The Right Entertainment

When you are hosting a party on your patio, you might feel concerned about what you can offer for entertainment. You can still play some of the same games as you would indoors, as long as you have enough tables and chairs set up. You could also have an ugly sweater decorating contest, do some cookie decorating, or do any of the things that you would do indoors. If you have gifts to exchange, then you can take your time and pass those around for some good entertainment, and you could also play a gift exchange game like a white elephant game to keep things interesting.

4. Keep The Food Simple And The Atmosphere Casual

When entertaining on the patio you have the excuse to keep things simple and casual. You can serve simple foods off the grill if you would like. You can also ask people to bring a dish to pass and have a potluck. You can keep the atmosphere casual with some holiday music playing and a buffet of food set up, as well as plenty of warm drinks to go around for both the young and old, and it will be a fun and relaxing party.

Host your next holiday party on your patio and everyone will have a great time. Keep your guests warm with heaters and keep the party going with plenty of entertainment. Serve the right foods and drinks and set up the right seating for your guests so that everyone will have a good time on the patio.

Meet the Babe in the Woods: Yvonne Wakefield

Meet the Babe in the Woods: Yvonne Wakefield

We bet you have a dream, a wish, or a goal of being off in your secluded cabin in the woods. Our guess, you want to escape the city or even, seeking for inspiration from nature — to create the best work of your life. Whatever your reason, you’ve got to hear Yvonne Wakefield’s story of building her cabin and her life one log at a time. Who knows, you might find the motivation you were looking for in this interview or her books from the Babe in the Woods series. So, here it is.

Hi Yvonne, when did you decide you needed to tell your story as the Babe in the Woods?

I’d previously published some really early, very raw, scattershot journal material and wanted to tell the story about my relationship with the cabin and living there alone.  After publishing “Suitcase Filled with Nails: Lessons Learned from Teaching Art in Kuwait,” the book I wrote about working as a professor in the Middle East teaching art to university-aged Muslim women, I decided to continue on a book about my life at the cabin.

What can your readers expect to find in the first book from the Babe in the Woods series?

The story of a young, naive but determined orphan girl who pushes herself to learn skills to rebuild a home she lost.  In the process, she builds connections with the locals and heals from a sorry past.

Babe in the Woods: Self Portrait was released recently. What part of your journey does it cover?

Self Portrait takes up where the first book leaves off.  It resumes my story of living alone in a wilderness log cabin. But it is also the story of coming and going there over several summers that includes my development as an artist, log cabin builder, and unfortunately my experience with rouge bears.

Why did you choose to build your cabin on an Oregon mountainside?

In high school history class, I learned about the Oregon Trail.  When I came of age and was ready to set out on my venture I headed to Oregon, not knowing if this was the spot on the map where I’d eventually settle.

You don’t seem to miss the city. But in the beginning, what were some things that you missed or wished you had access to?

I still don’t miss the city.  What I miss still, I was at the cabin last weekend during snow and rainstorm, is a good road, Other than that, I have everything I need there.  It just takes a lot longer to get hot water and heat if you first have to fall a tree, buck, and split it to build a stove fire.  Everything is the same as it was when I moved into the cabin as a teenager.   The same kerosene lamps provide light, the same stove heats the interior and all my original tools hang on nails below the porch. I still draw buckets of water from the creek. I did build a bathhouse that is really the only luxury addition.

Is there a fascinating bear-related story you’d like to share here?

One summer when I returned, I discovered bears had gotten into all of my food stores below the cabin.  These weren’t wild bears, but habituated ones relocated into the wilderness above my cabin.  No matter how diligent I was about keeping my food under lock the bears continued to raid my cabin.  When I found myself between a sow and a cub, I had to make a big decision contrary to my philosophy of co-existence.

Being an artist, what’s the best part about having your studio in the forest?

Yvonne Wakefield

There are no electronic or telephonic distractions because there is no electricity or cell phone reception.  I don’t even have a radio.  On the contrary, I can’t extend oil painting sessions past sunset unless I’m working by full moonlight.  One snowy night I was finishing a watercolor painting inside the cabin and went to rinse my brushes in the sink and I noticed it wasn’t draining as usual.  I went back to finish the painting and during this time the gray water drain pipe had frozen.  I had to haul buckets from the creek heat the water and pour it in the sink until the pipe thawed.  If I’d had modern plumbing this would not have happened.

Let’s do a round of rapid-fire questions. Ready? 

Artist or writer

In my mind’s eye, I don’t distinguish between the two

Country or Folk music


Writing in the morning or late at night?


Your favorite book of all time…

The Living by Annie Dillard

One item from your “bucket” list you’d like to share…

I’ve never had a bucket list

One thing you can’t live without…

my little dogs

What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Before my parents died and Christmas was a time for family and celebration I got a red kick scooter.  I was five years old. Before I could use it on Christmas morning, I had to finish my breakfast.  I stuffed my mouth like a chipmunk, was excused from the table, hopped on my little scooter, and spit scrambled eggs in the gutter as I scooted down the sidewalk.

Multimedia Mogul Charlamagne Tha God Takes on Television with Comedy Central Show

Multimedia Mogul Charlamagne Tha God Takes on Television with Comedy Central Show

It’s no small achievement to become a well-known personality within the media. It takes a potent combination of charisma and grit to capture the attention of the masses in one space, let alone across multiple media platforms. 

But Lenard “Charlamagne” McKelvey –– also known as Charlamagne tha God –– is up for the challenge. Over the past two decades Charlamagne has made a name for himself as a radio personality, building an audience of more than 4.5 million listeners a week for his syndicated radio morning show “The Breakfast Club,” as well as authoring two books, acting and hosting a podcast. Now the multimedia mogul is applying his signature wit and style to a new medium with his new show on Comedy Central, Tha God’s Honest Truth.

Over the course of his career, Charlamagne has made a name for himself as someone who doesn’t shy away from giving his opinion or asking tough questions, and has said that people should expect nothing less from him in this weekly late-night series. According to the Comedy Central website, the show will use a variety of deep dives, sketches and social experiments to tackle relevant social issues and unpack the most pressing topics in politics and culture, and the first three episodes that have been released do not renege on that promise. With episodes entitled “Decrackerfication” and “Critical Racist Theory,” Charlamagne has already shown the ability to deliver his uniquely thought-provoking and uninhibited observations in this new medium. 

Born in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Charlamagne grew up in the small town of the Palmetto state. Although his school teacher mom instilled in him a love of reading that he carried with him his whole life, his teenage years were fraught with turmoil as he neglected schooling in favor of the more glamorized street life. However, after a few run-ins with the law he eventually escaped the worse fates of many on his path, attending night school and eventually graduating high school. These successes enabled him to get an internship with a local radio station, and through it he was able to discover his passion earlier than many in their lives. Within a few short years, he was able to turn that internship into an on-air position that saw him gain statewide recognition for his irreverent and straightforward style. 

In 2010, Charlamagne became a co-host of The Breakfast Club alongside DJ Envy and Angela Yee, which quickly exploded into one of the most popular radio shows. Syndicated by Premiere Networks on nearly 100 stations across the country, today it is widely known as the most informative and entertaining top-rated hip hop and R&B morning show. Last year, the show celebrated its 10-year anniversary and the three co-hosts were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame for their work.

With radio providing a solid launching point, Charlamagne has been able to parlay that influence into many other types of media. In 2014 he began hosting the widely-acclaimed podcast Brilliant Idiots alongside Andrew Schultz, where the two provide their reactions to news in pop culture and the world. The show’s popularity has seen them able to take it on the road, appearing on stage in cities across the globe for live tapings, and each episode is streamed and downloaded by hundreds of thousands of listeners and fans. In 2017 he added author to his repertoire, coming out with “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It.” Published by the Simon & Schuster Inc. imprint Touchstone, the book outlines his belief that living life authentically is the fastest way to earn success. It was well-received by critics, making the New York Times list of best-selling hardback non-fiction and opening the doors for him to release his second book “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me” in 2018. 

Television is far from a new medium for the multimedia mogul, but Tha God’s Honest Truth may be the best way he is able to utilize his unique conversational talents for the platform. In 2011 he was made a cast member of Guy Code, a comedy television show on MTV2 that talked about a special code of conduct just for men, and also starred on the MTV2 show Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne, which evolved into the show Charlamagne & Friends. He served as a co-host for MTV New Year’s live from Times Square for two years in a row, and in 2015 was also a correspondent for the pre-show of the MTV Video Music Awards. 

At the end of the day, that appears to be the secret behind Charlamagne’s ability to translate himself across multiple platforms. Although he has called himself at times everything from “prince of pissing people off” to “ruler of rubbing you the wrong way” to “architect of aggravation,” the lack of contrivance in the way he approaches any subject or person ultimately garner the respect of those he interviews and the people who tune in to hear what he has to say.

History Behind the Met Gala

History Behind the Met Gala

History Behind the Met Gala

The Intro

Former fashion editor Helen Lee Schifter believes it is the most important night in fashion. What could this “it” be that is so important? Well, it is known and has been called by so many different names such as Costume Institute Gala, Custom Institute Benefit, Met Ball, Met Gala or by the formal name, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit. It is, according to most, an annual extravaganza held in New York City to fundraise and benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event has a theme each year that is celebrated and the customs worn by the guests are based on the Costume Institute Exhibition. The tone of the event is set by the exhibition as the guests are to become creative in the fashion sense and match the exhibit.

The Background and History

One may wonder how and when did the Met Gala get started. It all began in 1948 as a way to benefit and raise money for the Costume Institute that was newly founded and would have an annual exhibit. The very first benefit and fundraiser was fifty dollar tickets that were for a midnight dinner. In 1973 things began to change from the fifty dollar ticket dinner to the event most associated with today’s celebration as it was influenced by Diana Vreeland, a former Vogue editor-in-chief who was a special consultant and influencer to the Custom Institute. This event is celebrated and considered by many as New York’s crown in glory for the high society or as some say The City’s social crown as it is such a luxurious blockbuster that it is also considered the jewel in the crown

Helen Lee Schifter believes that the Gala is so prominent that it is said to be among the world’s most exclusive events socially and also among the biggest fundraising benefits as it raises funds in the millions. This event is by far the Institute’s most notable funding source.

More History in Detail

As already mentioned it all started in 1948 with significant changes starting 1973. However, it was Eleanor Lambert, a fashion publicist who established the Met Gala and for many years to come; in fact, for decades, it was just one, of quite a few, benefits held annually for charitable institutions in New York with its many attendees being members of New York’s high society and of New York’s world of fashion. The venues of old from 1948 to 1971 have been the Rainbow Room, the Waldorf Astoria and Central Park as they have all held the event. Again, as a short recap it was Diana Vreeland who put the blueprint on the celebrating and fundraising of today. The event simply evolved into this extravaganza and classy affair with Diana Vreeland at the helm as consultant to the Institute. Initially with Diana it was still catering mostly to the societal set but it kept evolving until it began to include celebrities like Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Diana Ross and the like that were faces of the 70’s scene.

Theme Park Fans Are Gearing Up for SeaWorld San Antonio’s Annual Howl-O-Scream

Theme Park Fans Are Gearing Up for SeaWorld San Antonio’s Annual Howl-O-Scream

Anyone looking for a spooktacular way to enjoy the Halloween season this year should certainly take the time to check out SeaWorld San Antonio’s upcoming Howl-O-Scream event. Billed as the biggest and most frightening Halloween event in all of Texas, Howl-O-Scream has been thrilling and chilling SeaWorld guests for the past twenty years. Now, the event is returning with fourteen action-packed days that include both classic spectacles and all-new haunts. 

When Does Howl-O-Scream Start? 

The 20th anniversary of SeaWorld San Antonio’s Howl-O-Scream spectacular kicks off on September 17th and runs through October 31st. While guests can enjoy the spooky thrills that Howl-O-Scream offers on any of these fourteen days, each day of the event is unique and offers something a little special. This means that guests will be able to choose a day when the activities sound the most exciting or come back for multiple visits and enjoy a brand-new experience. 

What to Expect from This Year’s Howl-O-Scream 

In the daytime, guests who attend the 20th annual Howl-O-Scream event at SeaWorld San Antonio can look forward to family-friendly fun that is Halloween-oriented yet appropriate for all ages. In the nighttime, though, SeaWorld San Antonio transforms into one of the most frightening locations in the country. 

Once the sun goes down, guests who visit SeaWorld San Antonio from September 17th through October 31st will be able to visit several scare zones known as “terror-tories,” each with its own unique theme and spectacular thrills. The spooky fun starts with The Swamp at Blackwater Bayou — an all-time favorite haunt that has been frightening guests since the beginning of the Howl-O-Scream event. Here, guests who venture through the swamps, foggy boathouse, cemetery, mansion, and other spine-tingling scenes that make up this classic terror-tory will have to fend off the undead, voodoo witches, and jaw-dropping animal-human hybrids that wander through this bayou-themed area of the park. If you are courageous enough to make it through The Swamp at Blackwater Bayou’s twelve horrific scenes, you’ll be rewarded with an additional three VIP scenes that are sure to provide a thrilling and grizzly conclusion to the experience. 

Those who make it through The Swamp at Blackwater Bayou and are still in the mood for a scare should be sure to check in for a stay at Milton Creek Manor — a hotel that is every bit as haunted as it is luxurious. 

At the Unearthed terror-tory, guests can expect a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a sinister force known as Scarlett — a furious demon hell-bent on exacting her revenge on anyone who dares to enter her demolished home. 

If zombies are your thing, you’ll have the chance to experience the horror of a zombie apocalypse first-hand when you venture through the Zombie Hoard terror-tory. Here, the dead come to life — and you never know when one of these flesh-hungry creatures will jump in front of your path. 

At the Karver’s Kradle terror-tory, guests can look forward to a disturbing yet dazzling puppetry experience. The puppet master behind this chilling puppetry display has literally put his heart and soul into his work. 

All-new for 2021 is a Día de Los Muertos-themed terror-tory that puts a frightening twist on this classic Mexican holiday. This event can be enjoyed in both the daytime and nighttime hours, allowing guests to choose the version that is best suited for their own tastes and comfort level. 

These are just a few examples of the various terror-tories that guests who attend this year’s Howl-O-Scream event will be able to enjoy. With a wide range of themes and attractions, Howl-O-Scream is an event that offers something for everyone and is sure to keep guests entertained all night. 

Delicious Halloween-Themed Drinks and Captivating Attractions 

In addition to the numerous scare zones that the park will be divided into throughout the nighttime hours of the Howl-O-Scream event, guests who attend Howl-O-Scream can also look forward to delicious Halloween-themed drinks, dazzling live performances, and numerous other attractions. 

Each terror-tory at Howl-O-Scream features bars that serve uniquely themed alcoholic drinks, enabling guests to procure a little liquid courage to help see them through the night. If you’re in the mood for an entertaining live performance, be sure to the Monster Stomp — a spooky song-and-dance show that features a live band, singers, and dancers. Adrenaline junkies, meanwhile, are sure to enjoy the Coaster Creep, a ride that transforms one of SeaWorld San Antonio’s most popular roller coasters into an even more frightening experience. 

Fun for All Ages 

If you plan to visit SeaWorld San Antonio during the Howl-O-Scream event with young children, or you aren’t a fan of being scared, don’t worry. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy SeaWorld throughout this fourteen-day event while skipping out on the more intense frights. During the daytime hours, SeaWorld guests will still be able to enjoy all the park’s normal shows, rides, and attractions without any fear of being spooked. In addition to the park’s regular attractions, anyone who visits the park while the sun is still shining can look forward to Spooktacular — a daytime, kid-friendly version of Howl-O-Scream that offers Halloween fun such as a pumpkin patch picnic, a hay maze, a dance party, a Halloween parade, and in-park trick-or-treating. 

scott ross seaworld

How to Attend This Year’s Howl-O-Scream Event 

Tickets for this year’s Spooktacular and Howl-O-Scream events are already on sale. From August 12th through August 13th, SeaWorld San Antonio is running a flash sale where guests can purchase single-day tickets to both the Spooktacular and Howl-O-Scream events for just $29.99 each. If you missed this flash sale, you will still be able to purchase tickets online or at the gate at the regular price from now until the event’s conclusion on October 31st. What is the best time to go to SeaWorld san antonio? Well, any single-day ticket purchased for one of the fourteen days where these events are running buys you admission to both the daytime Spooktacular event and the nighttime Howl-O-Scream event, enabling you to enjoy both depending on your tastes and who you are bringing along with you. 

Tears of Change: Spiritual, Uplifting, and Unforgettable

Tears of Change: Spiritual, Uplifting, and Unforgettable

Sometimes your tears say it all! They express a moment of grief, a sense of relief, emotions so deep – that even words aren’t enough. But sometimes, tears can help you find a fresh start. “Tears of Change” by Debbie Monteggia takes you on that new journey. Explore what led her to express her thoughts and experiences through poetry.

Hi Debbie, how do you feel about your book journey so far?

My book journey continues to be encouraging and inspiring!  My interviews are very uplifting and engaging. It’s been exciting discovering new avenues for promoting my book and telling my story. I thoroughly enjoyed and continue to embrace all my interviews with the variety of radio/podcasts and talk show hosts. The feedback I’ve received from my book has been positive and rewarding. It pleases me when I hear how my poetry has helped my readers move through some of their own feelings and emotions.

What is the core purpose of your book?

Debbie Monteggia

To share my story and poetry with the world. Poetry speaks to us all in many ways. My book can be read for pleasure, contemplation, or self-reflection. My poetry touches all our emotions, joy, love, gratitude, and sorrow. I’m sure one can find themselves in one of my poems. We are all connected and share the same or similar feelings. My hope is that one or many of my poems will inspire my reader to take a leap into expressing their own emotions so they can reach a deeper place of love and gratitude within themselves. 

How did you come up with Tears of Change for your book?

My poetry originated from my tears of sadness and despair and moved me to write about my tears of joy, grace, gratitude, and love. The title portrays this transition, “Tears of Change.”

Since you are a designer by profession, did you help with designing the gorgeous book cover? What was your brief to them?

The cover layout was a collaborative design by family members and myself. My husband came up with the title ‘Tears of Change’ and my son came up with the symbolic tree. I created the remaining designs, river, background, mountains, etc. I submitted all these ideas to my cover design company, and they created a beautiful colorful cover. 

When did you first start writing poetry? 

 I have been writing poetry most of my life. My poetry journey began 25 years ago.  

Could you share one touching review or letter you received from one of your fans that made your day?

Available on Amazon

This book is a revelation. Spiritual, uplifting, and unforgettable.  Debbie has taken us gently, lovingly, and courageously by the hand to share poetry that represents her journey toward self-fulfillment and peace. The poetry spans many life passages, from friendship and children to loss and fear, all truthfully and beautifully rendered. I especially enjoyed the context of each of the poems; it was a window into her heart and soul as she expressed her emotions. I felt as if I were with her and experienced her joy and sorrow. The book opened to me how truth, pain and compassion can be transformative. I will not soon forget this book.

What is one of your favorite poems from the book? Could you share a few lines with us?

A Child’s World is one of my favorite poems.

I’m only a child please watch me grow

Teach me the things I need to know

My world is little I can’t yet see

My journey in life, my destiny

Guide me now when I am small

It’s these years that count the most of all…

Let’s do a round of rapid-fire questions. Ready? 

Inspirations on a walk or shower?


Writing in the morning or late at night?


Classical or country music?


Interior Design or Writing

My passion is equal to both

Your favorite poet of all time

Emily Dickenson

What’s the last movie you watched?

Stillwater with Matt Damon

What’s the next project?

2nd edition of my book 

How Fashion influencers Build Brands

How Fashion influencers Build Brands

How Fashion influencers Build Brands

The world of fashions keeps up with the latest trends just like everything else in our society it evolves.The fashion brands that didn’t learn to keep you with the technology have left the scene. There are still some relevant influencers of fashion who make a living by writing about it. Helen Lee Schifter is one of the major fashion socialites in the fashion juggernaut that is New York. The pages she writes about fashion carry weight among the elite and upper echelon social class all over the world.When a company wants to build their brand that now have to keep up with the who’s who of Instagram,SnapChat,FaceBook,Twitter and TikTok.There was once upon a time in fashion where you could just rely on a print magazine and a little buzz from television ads. Alas, that time has morphed into a hybrid way of branding without people realizing that they are being influenced by the influencers of social media. There will always be room for someone like Helen Lee Schifter,but it will eventually slow to a trickle as the other platforms take over.

The Kardashians,Rhianna,Beyonce,Cardi B., or the lastest Hollywood darling of the moment Zendaya all have fan base fashion.

These devoted visitors to name brand spaces are the prime target for marketing ads which have not only become lucrative to the name brand stars,but to others who genuinely share their passion with followers.

People like fashion Instagram blogger Chiara Ferragni,AimeeSong and Alexa Chung all have an enormous following that makes for great brand building if you can get an ad on their page.Many of the fashion blogger or vloggers words carry major weight with their core audience.Right now this is what branding is not just the athletes getting major endorsements ,but socialites,musical artist,actors and actresses inking major deals.It helps as some of the bloggers have actually been apart of the fashion world like Alex Chung as a model on the runway.So she started with the legit credentials to back up her branding.

The major stars in the athletic arena are a select few, LeBron James, Stef Curry, Serena and Lionel Messi. If you want your fashion branding from an influencer in this realm it would make sense. Think about the number of followers they have and all a company has to do is convert x amount of followers into sales. Voila! Just like magic this is the how the influencers help you to get your brand noticed by getting your name tied into someone they being the crowd trust. When companies or an individual builds a brand you have to make sure you chose wisely because a scandal can soon derail the power of the influencer as we have seen innumerable amounts of time. Helen Lee Schifter believes that this trend is only going to get bigger if we come out of the pandemic there will be people looking online to shop for the next thing. When it is all said and done shopping is therapy to Americans. Teen girls and boys will always adore the last musical artist. Mothers will still want to see what the latest Hollywood fashion was on the red carpet on Oscar night.

Executive Producer John Lasseter’s New Animated Short Blush Premiers at the Tribeca Film Festival

Executive Producer John Lasseter’s New Animated Short Blush Premiers at the Tribeca Film Festival

Blush, the first short from Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation, took its first bow at the Tribeca Film Festival in June. This inaugural release from a multi-year partnership between the two studios premiered at Tribeca as part of its showcase of animated short films curated by Whoopi Goldberg. The animated short is produced by Heather Schmidt Feng Yanu of “Toy Story” and the “Cars” trilogy, who is also director of inclusion at Skydance. Executive producers are Dana Goldberg, David Ellison, and the legendary John Lasseter of “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Cars” fame.

The 11-minute film opens with a young horticulturist-astronaut whose ship collides with an asteroid that knocks it off course. He crash-lands on an uninhabited dwarf planet, a cold, hard, gray rock. The space-faring botanist desperately hopes to create just a tiny bit of oxygen by growing a plant he took on board, but it withers and dies.

Just as the protagonist is running out of air, another spaceship careens into the planet. Out of it steps a comely alien astronaut, whose dark pink face seems to have a permanent blush. She saves the botanist and gives him a new life.

“Blush” will be released on Apple TV+. It is shot in 3-D, but it has, “Variety” reports, “quaint, natural pictorial tones of 2D, yoked with Hollywood’s frequent focus on core human relations.”

Skydance did graphics for the film in the U.S. and Spain.

The film was directed by Joe Mateo, who lost his wife Mary Ann after her 8-year battle with breast cancer in 2017.

Mateo said that losing his wife inspired the direction of the film.

Mateo told Variety “After I lost Mary Ann, I suddenly couldn’t breathe, it was a scary moment. I had to call a friend who is a doctor and ask him: ‘What is going on with me?’ He said: ‘Joe, you are having a panic attack.’ I realized that Mary Ann was my air. I was struggling to breathe because I lost my air.”

Love is the oxygen of life became the central conceit of the film. Mateo chose to set the film on a tiny planet because, as he said, “I just loved setting it on something intimate and small, to capture the intimacy of the story, to contain it and focus on the characters.”

John Lasseter gave the go-ahead for the production of this short message of healing and hope a couple of months before the lockdown in 2020. No one, of course, expected the pandemic to happen in the middle of producing it.

Producing the film, studio executives have told the press, gave everyone involved a sense of normalcy, something to look forward to when getting up every morning. Now, Mateo says, releasing the film is about getting the animated short to the widest audience possible when people need it most. Says director Mateo, “It will be great if it can be a source of hope and healing for a lot of people.”

“Blush” is the inaugural release for Executive Producer John Lasseter at Skydance. Lasseter brings his reputation as an “industry visionary” from his years as Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, where he broke new ground for family entertainment with “WALL-E,” “Toy Story 3,” “Ratatouille,” and “Up.” With Blush, Lasseter continues to demonstrate the revitalization of the animation business and shows the dramatic potential of the genre.