A Winner!

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Deborah F of New York won a signed copy of

Days of Future Past in the Valentine’s Day giveaway at

Austen Variations!

CONGRATS DEBORAH!

DoFPFNew Front Cover 600

We have a winner!

Romance-is-in-the-air-2015The winner of my ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR Hop is

REGINA M-S

Congratulations!

She will receive a signed copy of my newest book, that launched yesterday (Valentine’s Day) at Austen Variations.

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Things are not always what they seem.

Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. The 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together.

Twenty years after his betrayal caused the cancellation of their wedding, Ted finds himself in need of Ann’s help. The intense, recurring dreams that are invading his sleep are thought to be memories of past lives. And hypnotherapy, one of Ann’s specialties, may be the cure he seeks.

Their journey defies time and reason, forcing them to re-evaluate their capacity for love and forgiveness.

DoFPwall

What people are saying about Days of Future Past:

From the intriguing dialogue to the expansive plot that wraps around a truly unforgettable couple, this book has it all!

GREAT BOOK!  I was hooked from the start.

Ms. O’Rourke has done it again. “Days of Future Past” is filled with likeable, intelligent and caring characters. Her book is a wonderful romance, but one with mystery and suspense added to the plot, coupled with just the right amount of whimsy.

This author does an amazing job of inter weaving the beauty of another day and age with the harsh modern world. Mystery lovers will be pleased, but the romantic and mystical, even supernatural fans out there, will be over the moon for this one.

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR!

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Here’s a thought, make this wonderful Date Nut Bread (won second place at the Los Angeles County Fair), pour yourself a cup of tea. Now come join me in my garden and  enjoy yourself on the hop!DoFPwall

Date bread slicesDate bread and tea

 

As Romance is in the Air, I’m giving away a signed copy of my newest book Days of Future Past. The official launch date is February 14, so you’ll be one of the first to read it.

Excerpt from Days of Future Past.

 

It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think of as our present existence, as a dream. Edgar Allen Poe

Things are not always what they seem.

DoFPFNew Front Cover 600Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. The 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together.

Twenty years after his betrayal caused the cancellation of their wedding, Ted finds himself in need of Ann’s help. The intense, recurring dreams that are invading his sleep are thought to be memories of past lives. And hypnotherapy, one of Ann’s specialties, may be the cure he seeks.

Their journey defies time and reason, forcing them to re-evaluate their capacity for love and forgiveness.

From the intriguing dialogue to the expansive plot that wraps around a truly unforgettable couple, this book has it all! Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Long time fans will enjoy this book while new readers will … seriously consider perusing her other volumes. InD’Tale

…enjoyable read…

…unique tale…

 

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It’s 2015!

L&D2

Like most families, mine has holiday traditions, but our ‘season’ tends to run until early February. A couple of January and February birthdays extend the ‘season’ for us. My birthday is the final date in the almost three month celebration. All the cooking, baking, decorating, and shopping take a heavy toll on my energy supply these days. I certainly don’t bounce back the way I used to, so need to kick back occasionally to re-charge the old batteries. And this year surgery for me added to the depletion of what little energy I still had after Christmas.

As the eye surgery (on the 30th) left me unable to do much more than sit quietly, I found myself surfing the television channels for something to keep my mind occupied. I did find a new cooking show, at least it was new to me. Chef Walter Staib does a show called ‘A Taste of History’. He has done a massive amount of research into the early cookery of the United States and he owns the City Tavern in Philadelphia where he cooks amazing things at a hearth using utensils and ingredients as close to 18th century America as he can get. Often he goes to Monticello and Mt. Vernon and gets herbs and vegetables from Thomas Jefferson’s garden and Martha Washington’s kitchen garden. Being something of a history buff, I found his show fascinating.

However, even two of his shows only take an hour, so I began hunting the channels once again, and what to my wondering eye(s) should appear, but the 1995 BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice. I couldn’t stop watching. In spite of the fact that I own more than one copy and the commercials were annoying, I continued to watch.

I was upset that they edited the opening scene where Lizzy sees Bingley and Darcy looking at Netherfield Park, they cut the end of it where Lizzy skips down the hill, then stops at the window of her father’s library Elizabethcroppedand exchanges knowing looks with him as her mother and younger sisters argue in the background. The sequence establishes part of Elizabeth’s character so well that I really missed seeing it. However, I persevered and, for the most part, was not disappointed. I even made some notes as I watched.

Episode 1: How can one not enjoy Elizabeth and Darcy’s first encounter when he is so rude and she laughs at him. Oh no, they cut the scene after the assembly dance when Lizzy promises her mother that she will never dance with Mr. Darcy.

One of my favorite lines from the book is Miss Bingley saying ‘I am all astonishment,’ after Darcy comments on Elizabeth’s fine eyes. And even after multiple readings of the novel and as many times watching this mini-series, I still love it.

The end of the episode has Elizabeth and Jane in a carriage with Lizzy declaring that she has never been happier to leave a place (Netherfield, of course). It is already evident that Darcy is conflicted in his feelings for her by the look on his face, as her carriage rolls down the drive.

Episode 2: Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham. The Netherfield Ball. Enough said. Although I will say that I adore Mr. Bennet’s support in Lizzy’s refusal to marry Mr. Collins.

Episode 3:What can I say … it ends with Darcy’s first proposal, which still makes my heart flutter and then makes me as angry as Elizabeth.

lakecarriageEpisode 4: After Darcy’s letter, she puts Wickham down and tries, in vain, to stop Lydia from going to Brighton. But then, her Aunt and Uncle Gardner take her to Pemberley. In spite of the numerous times I watched this show, I still wait in anticipation for the lakeside meeting and the very end when Lizzy turns back to smile at Darcy as the carriage drives away. It’s a small smile that says so much.

 

Pride and prejudice

Episode 5: DarcylookThe looks … sigh.

 

 

 

Episode 6: Two of my favorite scenes happen here and I wait for each in their turn. Lizzy’s refusal to promise not to marry Darcy when Lady Catherine insists on it and a little scene (that I was surprised to see they left in) has Lizzy and Jane in the still room hanging herbs to dry, while discussing the fact that Bingley is returning to Netherfield. It’s a wonderful sister scene and I love it.

The wedding, the kiss. The end. (if you’d like to see how I imagine their wedding night, click here)

kissWonderful. Six hours spent in comfort and joy. Twenty years and the mini-series stands up to time. What better way to ring in the new year? How did you re-charge your batteries?

 ♥♥♥

A final note for this January post, watch for the Valentine’s Day release of Days of Future Past, my newest novel.

As readers become attached – quite quickly, in fact – to the main characters, they will find themselves drawn into a journey that they will never forget. Not only will mystery lovers be pleased, but the romantic and mystical, even supernatural fans out there, will be over the moon for this one. From the intriguing dialogue to the expansive plot that wraps around a truly unforgettable couple, this book has it all! Feathered Quill

KICKOFF CAMPAIGN

Sticker

Saturday, November 15 I attended the kickoff event for a young man who has decided to run for a seat on the Board of Education in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is running for the seat representing District 5.

His home is in District 5, as are the schools his children attend. Along with his community Andrew has worked and fought to improve the schools in the District and currently serves as a representative on the LAUSD parent advisory committee. Parent advisory committee you ask, why does he need to be on the board. His explanation is simple. The board can ignore the committee’s suggestions or comments, but as a member of the Board of Education he will give parents and children a voice. A voice the Los Angeles Unified School District desperately needs.

As a politician he has no experience, his expertise is as a parent and educator. He received a Ph.D in Urban Schooling from UCLA and teaches educational policy to educational professionals around the world. He helped reorganize Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles, in fact he has worked with schools throughout Southern California. He is grounded, sincere and real. Don’t you think it’s time for the Los Angeles School District to get back to what it’s supposed to be doing? Educating for the future!

I believe it is time for Los Angele Unified School District to have a parent on the Board of Education. Unfortunately, I do not live in District 5. If you do, please go to the website and learn more about Andrew and his platform.

Don’t ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Decisions are made by those who show up.

These two Aaron Sorkin quotes exemplify what Andrew is trying to do. Gather a few thoughtful people and change the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. The change can’t happen unless folks show up. Show your support for a new face and voice on the Board of Education for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Andy2Facebooktwitter-150x150

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS!

Anji from England is our winner of Syrie James’ wonderful new book

Jane Austen’s First Love.

JaneAustensFirstLove 100 dpiENJOY!

Syrie’s website

Jane Austen’s First Love

We’re celebrating the launch of Syrie James’ newest blockbuster! Here’s your chance to win a copy!

JaneAustensFirstLove 100 dpi“A wonderful, charming and lively story of what might have been.
James presents readers with an evocative and sweet romance that reads like Emma
This enchanting tale will have readers recalling their first love:
the joy, the nervousness, and the sadness of parting.
Simply a lovely novel!”
Romantic Times Book Reviews

“Syrie James is magnificent!…This early Austen adventure is truly unforgettable!”
-Feathered Quill

“A fresh and engaging new story, which is a real feast for any Austen fan.
Jane–who is also the first-person narrator in the story–is enchanting,
while devilishly handsome Edward Taylor is temptingly irresistible.
This book can’t be missing on your Austenesque shelf and would be a very special
gift to young readers you want to initiate into Jane Austen’s world.”
—My Jane Austen Book Club

SyrieHeadshotDraculaSmallSyrie’s website

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rustic TriBerry Pie

TriBerry Pie

With the family growing older now, birthday celebrations tend to be joint affairs, where we celebrate two or more at a time. This past Sunday was one of those days. Sam turned 16 in early August, Clara was 14 in May and mom Tanya had a big day in June. We all met up at the home of Sara’s friend Stella. A lovely old Craftsman home that she has furnished very comfortably, the pool and hot tub (salt water) gave everyone the cooling needed on a hot summer afternoon and evening.

Sara grilled some wonderful kabobs of lamb, chicken and beef, beautiful asparagus and couscous. I did deserts. Red velvet cupcakes and a summertime berry pie.

Sam and Clara My great nephew & niece

Sam and Clara
My great nephew & niece

But the TriBerry Pie was the biggest hit, and it was wonderful. Just add ice cream or whipped cream. Here’s the recipe.

Printable TriBerry Pie Recipe and Printable Crust Recipe

This crust is the one I use for all my pies, but particularly pumpkin.

TriBerry Pie RecipeCrust

This pie is time consuming, but definitely worth it. Get the last of the summer berries and make it for Labor Day, you won’t be disappointed.

BY THE WAY

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Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is on sale today at

eREADER NEWS TODAY!

 

It’s only .99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

ChristmasinJulyGiveawayHop2

GO TO END OF POST FOR ENTRY AND LINKY LIST!

US Winner will receive print copy and our international friends will receive an eEdition.

CHRISTMASATSEAPINE#6C0CFAn excerpt from

CHRISTMAS AT SEA PINES COTTAGE

PROLOGUE

The big yellow school bus eased to a stop amid the squeal of air brakes. By the time the young boy jumped down from the bottommost step, the puppies were already at the gate jumping and yipping their collective greeting.

The child unlatched the gate and as he stepped through was besieged by seven wiggly pups. He fell giggling to the ground as his face and neck were thoroughly licked and nuzzled.

The sound of his name brought him to his feet with the puppies scurrying around him vying for a free hand to receive his pets.

The older boy stood outside the gate. “Mom wants you to go in and rest or you won’t be able to go trick or treating tonight.”

The small boy ruffled the ears of each of the seven puppies and then left, skipping alongside his brother.

The older brother, with some distain said, “Just because dad breeds dogs doesn’t mean the puppies are yours.”

Without responding, as young children are wont to do, he asked his big brother, “Are you taking me trick or treating or is mom?”

Shaking his head at the unheeded warning he conceded, “I am. Mom thinks I’m too old, the only way she’d let me go was by my agreeing to take you. So Jimmy, Bobby and their pesky little brothers are coming over and we’re all going together.”

Getting excited, “Are you going to dress up, too?”

Grabbing his little brother up and pretending to carry him off, “Yeah, I’m going to be a pirate. Argh.”

The little boy giggled with pleasure and expectation.

 

Night fell and the only sound was the wind rustling the trees that surrounded the kennels.

Snuggly warm in the embrace of his siblings, the young pup suddenly raised his head, his acute hearing discerning a sound other than the wind. He sniffed the air, his sensitive nose recognizing the older of the two boys who had visited them earlier in the day.1. puppy

The puppy got up and trotted to the gate in anticipation of a treat or ear rub. The other puppies roused by his movement followed. They waited at the gate sniffing the air and milling around the locked gate.

Suddenly three human forms darted out of the darkness, causing the motion controlled lights to come on. As they ran past the puppies’ enclosure, one of them tossed something into the center of the yard.

Expecting some tasty treat, the puppies rushed to where the object lay. One pup nudged the thing with his nose, in spite of the strange hissing noise it made and yelped when a small spark singed the fur of his muzzle. The other puppies stood back away from the thing as it continued to hiss and spark.

The light at the end of it grew brighter as it started to spin in a circle. As the puppies drew farther away from it, the objectionable thing started exploding, one small explosion quickly followed another. The animals running helter, skelter to get away from the horrid noise and find safety; piling into the deepest corner of the kennel. After what seemed an interminable time the loud popping finally stopped.

The puppies sensitive ears were still ringing when the three human boys rushed in through the gate and picked up the offending object.

The boy the pup recognized said, “Gotta get this out of here. My dad will kill me if he finds out about this.”

Another boy said as they locked the gate and walked away, “Yeah, but did you see they way they all scattered and whined?

 

METEOR

Meteor is my name.

That is, of course, my human name. Or, more precisely, since I am not myself a human, it is the name that was bestowed upon me by Robert on the day I first arrived Meteormmhere at the gray shingled cottage sheltered among the pines on the wild dunes of Cape Fear.

Though my keen hunter’s eyes have since grown dim with the passage of too many autumns, each wondrous detail of the bright November afternoon when I was named remains as fresh and untarnished within my memory as if it had happened today.

It was the day after, what humans call, Thanksgiving. In the two weeks preceding, Sam had been able to sell ‘as pets’ my brothers and sisters. It disgusted him that we would never be of value as anything but household pets and he was glad to be rid of us. I alone remained.

After a whispered conversation with his female counterpart I was unceremoniously put in a cardboard box in the back of Sam’s truck. But before Sam could drive away the woman returned and secured a red and green bow around my neck, saying I was now a Christmas puppy. Then she gave me some wonderful meat that she said was leftover from dinner the day before.

“Be good,” she whispered as she kissed my nose.

Jumping down from the flat bed of the truck she walked around to the window and kissed Sam, gently reminding him that I was just a puppy. Sam snorted as the truck rumbled off past the sign identifying what had been my domicile, Prairiewood Kennels – Home of Champion Retrievers.

The truck came to a stop at a place with which I was unfamiliar. I could smell the sea and feel its mist on my fur. After peering over the edge of the truck I retreated again to the box, shivering from an unnamed fear rather than the fierce cold that was blowing in from the restless sea.

Robert, at twenty-four, was in the very prime of his youth then. Tall and tan and deep-chested, his tangled brown hair streaked gold from the white hot sun of the summer, he appeared like a young god to the bewildered pup he found shivering in the corner of a soggy corrugated box in the back of Sam Wilson’s old pickup truck.

I was that frightened pup.

Sick and dizzy from the noxious exhaust fumes that had swirled about me throughout a long cold ride in the clattering truck bed, my future could not at that moment have seemed more dismal. Sam Wilson had made it clear that I was a disgrace in his eyes as well as those of any other human who knew and seriously bred dogs for hunting in the great marshlands that dominate this sparsely inhabited region of the Carolina coast.

My life was over before it had properly begun.

Or so I had believed then. Less than a span of seasons had passed since I had been weaned from my mother’s milk. But though I was bright of eye and swift of foot, and despite my noble blood and the fine, strong features that had seemed to promise a happy lifetime filled with the honors that, rightly, accrue to champion retrievers, I had become an embarrassing burden to Sam Wilson; a useless creature to be disposed of as quickly and as quietly as possible.

Cowering in the corner of my foul box that afternoon, I was unwilling even to look up at the curious young man who had climbed onto the truck to look me over. Instead, I curled up in my box and whimpered at the cruel circumstance that had so abruptly reduced my life to such a sorry state. Then, without warning, I felt myself being hoisted high into the air, held up and closely scrutinized by Robert’s calm gray eyes.

Golden-Retriever-PuppyOh, those eyes! Warm and compassionate and wise beyond the years reflected in the smooth, unlined face that held them, they bored into my very soul, searching there for something–I knew not what–but betraying no trace of the naked contempt I had so lately seen in the eyes of Sam Wilson when he looked at me.

Suddenly, my soul was filled with an unreasonable hope. Perhaps this human would give me another chance to prove my worth. Although truly I dreaded the prospect of returning to the scene of my humiliation and was not at all certain that I would not fail again, still, I forced myself to cease my whimpering. And as pups will often do when they sense true goodness and compassion radiating from a human being, I lavishly licked Robert’s square, handsome face.

To my great surprise and joy he laughed out loud, a soft baritone sound that made me shiver with such pleasure that I even forgot for the moment the terrors of the grim trial I had so recently failed. Then Robert set me on the sandy ground and tossed a bit of driftwood far down the beach. It disappeared among the curling green waves that were crashing onto the cold sands in advance of a waiting Arctic storm moving in from the east.

Gulping in a huge breath of clean sea air, I felt my sickness vanish as if by magic. And I ran after that twisted stick of wood as though my very life depended upon it, which, in a way, I was certain that it did. For, from the moment I heard Robert’s exuberant laughter and looked into those placid gray eyes, I had decided that my only chance for happiness lay in gaining the approval of this young and handsome human.

Pounding into the chilly backwash of a receding wave, I pounced on the thrown driftwood with a spectacular splash. Then gripping the trophy tightly in my jaws I dashed back to where the men were standing, and heard Sam Wilson talking in low, serious tones.

My heart sank as I trotted up all dripping and salty to drop the stick like an offering at Robert’s booted feet.

Sam Wilson–who, for all his understandable lack of warmth toward me, was a fair and honest man–was carefully explaining to Robert in his slow Outer Banks accent that he wanted it clearly understood I would never be useful as a hunting dog.

“He will not stand to guns,” Wilson proclaimed, casting a disgusted look my way. What he meant, of course, was that the sound of a hunter’s rifle going off just above my head did remind me of that horrible night.

For though Sam trained me to know that the dreaded explosion would come and not harm me, and I could always steel myself to point the game and stand rock steady, ultimately the awful boom of the rifle shot never failed to take me by surprise, hurting my sensitive ears and throwing me into a blind panic from which my only instinct was to flee.

On that fateful November morning, after endless working sessions on home ground Sam Wilson had taken me along with my brothers and sisters out of our kennel for what he called a test. A test of what we had no idea but leaving the pen that had become a constant reminder of our terror initially brought all of us joy. And we happily jumped into the bed of Sam’s beat-up old pick-up truck.

The trip was fairly short although it was a place none of us recognized. Sam allowed us to run free amid the tall trees, frosty fallen leaves crunching under our paws. After a short time of sniffing out a banquet of wildlife we were all called back to the truck. Sam stood next to the battered old vehicle with a the shotgun on his shoulder. The sight made my stomached start to churn.

Once we were all standing at point around him, amid the strange surroundings, Sam raised the gun and fired a single shot into the air, a shot that sent all of us fleeing like frightened squirrels into the sun-dappled autumn woods.

His normally sallow cheeks as crimson as ripe apples, poor Sam had been forced to drag us all cowering from the woods, knowing that his months of breeding and training were a total loss and that not one of us would ever be a gun dog. His anger at the time, energy and money lost was palpable even to seven terrified pups. There would never be a champion hunter among us.Puppy

“I do not hunt,” Robert quietly replied after Sam Wilson had said his piece. Then he bent and gently ran his fingers through the thick mat of wet fur just behind my neck. “Nor do I ever intend to hunt,” he continued. “But I am going to be wintering over here on the Cape this year,” He jerked his chin toward the gray shingled cottage half-hidden among the blowing pines, “and I think that I’d enjoy having this little guy around to keep me company.”

Sam Wilson nodded and cast a dour look at the pair of us, the dog that couldn’t stand to guns and the strange young man who didn’t hunt and, to boot, was planning on spending a harsh Cape Fear winter in an isolated cottage on this remote coastal island, far from others of his kind. “Suit yourself,” he said in a tone that seemed to imply that Robert and I deserved each other.

Until that moment, I had believed that I completely understood Sam Wilson’s motive for bringing me out to this desolate island and its strange inhabitant. It had seemed obvious that he was hoping to recoup some portion of the feed and vet bills he had lavished on what had turned out to be a useless hunting dog by selling me to a lonely man who wanted only companionship. Therefore I was puzzled when the handful of wrinkled bills that Robert offered him were gruffly refused.

“Nossir,” said Sam Wilson, sweeping his old felt hat from his pale, balding head and looking down uneasily at his feet. “I could not take money from a man who has given what you have given for your country. The whelp is yours if you want him.” And with that, he clapped the hat back onto his head, climbed into his old truck and wished Robert a Merry Christmas as he drove away.

“Well now, you’re the first good thing I’ve ever gotten out of that damned war and a Christmas present to boot,” Robert laughed as we watched Sam’s pickup disappear behind a line of dunes. When it was gone, he looked down at me with a grin.

“Now what shall I call you?” he asked and bent to retrieve the soggy stick of driftwood hurling it skyward once more. I joyously streaked down to the beach with the chilly November sunlight flashing like quicksilver against my glistening amber coat.

“Meteor!” I heard him call as I plunged headlong into the bone-chilling maw of a towering Atlantic comber. “Seeing you run like that reminds me of a meteor streaking into the sea.”

Thus I got my human name. And thus began my life here at Sea Pines Cottage. It has been a life that I would not exchange for any other, even were the Maker in His wisdom to grant me an endless span of seasons in this world.

For mine has been a life that any dog would envy.

A life built on unconditional love.

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Same Book

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Days of Future Past

The release of my next book is delayed due to several different events, the most disruptive being a major plumbing failure in my condo, resulting in damage on all three floors. Walls and flooring were removed and it took weeks to dry out and then had to be put back together. Something on which I am still working. It appears that it will be a very long process. Living in a hotel for several weeks without my computer meant limited access; alas my ‘antique’ laptop and spotty wifi made maintaining the blog a bit more than a challenge.  But I’m home now and putting it all back together, albeit slowly. Thankfully, my Rambi cat seems no worse for the wear and is back to normal.

Water pooled between drywall and latex paint

Water pooled between drywall and latex paint

Down to the bare wood

Down to the bare wood

Down to the ribs

Down to the ribs

On to more cheerful things. While the launch of my newest book, Days of Future Past, is delayed for another couple of months, I couldn’t be happier with it, thanks to the help I got from Victoria Lucas, my story consultant and Julie Luongo, my editor. And Janet Taylor (of Pride and Prejudice calendar fame) is creating the cover. Isn’t it beautiful? And wait ’till you see the back, it’s amazing. A picture created almost entirely by Janet. A wall to a secret garden.

Later this month I’m joining the Christmas in July Hop being hosted by I am a Reader not a Writer and Laurie Here, keep the dates in mind and join us.

Christmas-in-July-Giveaway-Hop

If you’re interested in Regency wedding traditions, take a look at last month’s blog It’s June!

tn_thekissThe Wedding Night