January 25, 2015

Bluebirds, Lush Valleys and Folk of Arkansas with Radine Trees Nehring

Back in 1978 the state of Arkansas turned this "Okie" into a writer in love with Arkansas. Within a few months of completing my first essay about an experience in the Ozarks, I had, to my great surprise, become an internationally-published author. (Evidently the Arkansas Ozarks are of interest in many places.)  

My husband and I have lived full-time in Arkansas since 1988, and my essays, feature articles, short stories, and eight books set somewhere in the state have continued going out into the world. I'm always eager to introduce newcomers to a few of my special places. If you can't visit, how about spending time here via my mystery fiction, since my stories always depend on landscapes and buildings that actually exist. (Yes, even closets and basements--especially basements! Brrr.)

Initially I wrote non-fiction about experiences at Spring Hollow, the name my husband and I gave the

forested hills and hollows where we built our Ozarks home. When I decided to have a go at mystery fiction, that became "Blackberry Hollow," home to my female protagonist, Carrie McCrite, a mature woman, newly widowed, who dared set out on her own to learn independence after years of being sheltered and "spoiled" by her family. Oops, she soon smacks up against the murder of her best friend in the Ozarks in A VALLEY TO DIE FOR. A hunting accident? 

When a publisher bought "Valley" and wanted more, I wondered where to take Carrie next, and since she then managed a highway tourist stop for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, why not a yearly (fictitious) Tourism conference at a favorite place, Ozark Folk Center State Park? The Folk Center, somewhat like other historic village reproductions around the United States, depicts early day life--this time in the Ozarks. (The novel, MUSIC TO DIE FOR, is now out of print, but can be found on line and as an e-book.)

The main crime in MUSIC is the kidnapping of a musician's child and murder of the kidnapper, which complicates her safe return.

By then, Carrie's near Ozarks neighbor, Henry King, a retired Kansas City Police Major, has begun to figure largely in her life and, in A TREASURE TO DIE FOR, he becomes a second point-of-view character. He and Carrie attend an Elderhostel (now known as "Roads Scholars") at Hot Springs National Park, AR and end up literally saving each others' lives. As in all my stories, Arkansas history figures largely in this adventure, and the setting is so real you can follow each event there, book in hand. (Skip the underground creek including water from 140 degree springs that Carrie has to escape from. The creek is, of course, real.)

In a later adventure, Carrie and Henry, now married; plus Carrie's adult son and Henry's half sister, (who's also half his age), experience terrifying peril in an abandoned mine and historic bluff shelter during a camping trip at Buffalo National River. (Initially Carrie refuses to go tent camping and stays home, but news of the disappearance of son Rob and Henry's sister Catherine brings her to the area post haste.

Is there more?  Oh yes, much more, with many adventures to read and many places to see.

I'll close with a photo of the lovely "Bluebirds of Happiness," hand blown here in the Ozarks for many years. You can visit their too little-known source and home, Terra Studios, at Fayetteville, Arkansas. Watch beautiful glass items being made, then wander through their fantastic and imaginative people-friendly park full of unique sculpted creatures, fantasies, and, of course, bluebirds! Take the kids! It's like science fiction on the ground! 
www.terrastudios.com   I haven't set a story there yet, but . . . y'know what. . . . !?

If you would like to win a print copy of my novel, A RIVER TO DIE FOR, write me at
springhollow@arkansas.net and mention the code, 4137. Include your full mailing address. (USA, please.)  I'll print all entries, fold and stir them in an Ozarks split oak basket, and draw one.  Hope it's yours! 

You can find my books at all regular venues including as e-books from on line booksellers.  More information at http://www.RadinesBooks.com or at your favorite bookstore. My latest novel, A FAIR TO DIE FOR is also available from Oak Tree Press.  www.oaktreebooks.com
Happy adventuring in "The Natural State,"  Radine   

Radine Trees Nehring, 2011 Inductee: Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame
http://www.RadinesBooks.com http://radine.wordpress.com
Sharing the magic of the Arkansas Ozarks in "To Die For" novels
including  A FAIR TO DIE FOR from Oak Tree Press.

(All photos except that of author courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Author photo was taken at Ozark Folk Center State Park by John Nehring.)

January 18, 2015

Kelley Heckart’s Arizona Desert Home

I have lived in Arizona since 2001 after living in Southern California for most of my life. I never thought much about the desert, dismissing it as barren, dusty. I was surprised to find abundant wildlife in a place that possessed such stark beauty with brown sand, green cactus and Palo Verde trees and flowering desert plants, the colors vibrant against a blue sky, the blueness of the sky deepened by the sunlit desert hues. And for us here in Lake Havasu City, in northwest Arizona, where the sun shines 300 days a year, the desert beauty is dazzling against the turquoise lake that is part of the Colorado River. In fact, the meaning of Havasu, a Native American (Havasupai) word, means blue-green water.

Lake Havasu City is known as the home of the London Bridge, purchased in 1968 for $2,460,000 by Robert P. McCulloch, but there is so much more to love about this city and the desert that surrounds us. I
don’t even have to leave my yard to enjoy the beauty and wildlife of our city. Mountains surround us, capturing the sunrises and sunsets in brilliant shades of red/gold. We have the most gorgeous sunsets and stunning cactus blooms. I’ve had encounters with an injured hawk and an injured vulture on my patio; I’ve been startled by bats and owls in my backyard, had a roadrunner tapping on my sliding glass door; I’ve watched hummingbirds mate, had baby quails trapped in my yard (they made it safely out) and have a desert iguana named Godzilla living in a den near my back patio with his entire family.
We have some fierce but awesome monsoon storms in the summer where the setting sun turns the
thunderstorm clouds an eerily beautiful pink. Nature’s artwork. It doesn’t get any better than that and I get to see all of this each day in my own yard. All of this natural beauty is an inspiration for me. I never know what I will find when I step outside, whether it’s a huge lizard sunbathing on the wall or a breathtaking sunrise or sunset.

There are two seasons here: summer for the younger boating crowd and winter for the older snowbirds that flock to our city in their RVs to escape the snow. The summers are too hot for anything except swimming in a pool or boating on the lake. The best time to enjoy the outdoors here in Lake Havasu City is from October to April. People can hike and ride off-road vehicles in the surrounding desert and there are a lot of fun winter events. In October the city hosts Drag Boat and Jet Ski Races. In December is the Boat Parade of Lights. In January is the popular Balloon Festival and Fair. In February is Winterfest with numerous vendors lining Main Street to sell their wares.

There is also a fun off-road trip to a bar in the middle of the desert near Parker (30 miles from Lake Havasu). The Nellie E Saloon (Desert Bar) is only open weekends and holidays from October to March and closes by nightfall. This is a popular destination at Thanksgiving. The ride to the bar on a dirt rode takes about 30 minutes and can be done in a 2-wheel drive vehicle. Kids are welcome too. In addition to the bar, there is food, hiking and a live band. These are some of the most popular winter events, but there is so much to do here in Lake Havasu City and most of it is free. All you have to do is open your eyes and take a look around to find natural beauty and wildlife. http://www.thedesertbar.com/    http://www.golakehavasu.com/

I will be giving away a Kindle version or PDF copy of my new release, The Bear Goddess, a retelling of the Greek myth about Callisto, the nymph who betrayed Artemis. Here is a short blurb:
Forbidden love… Broken vows… Betrayal…
A nymph. A centaur. Enemies in love.
On the run, danger and betrayal follow Callisto and Kasin. To survive they must evade those who want to keep them apart and no place is safe.
Will their love for each other be enough to save them?
Please comment here for your chance to win!

Multi-published author Kelley Heckart lives in Arizona with her musician husband, dog and a number of http://www.kelleyheckart.com/
backyard “pets,” including Godzilla the desert iguana. Her stories reflect her passion for ancient and medieval time periods, storytelling and the supernatural. Inspired by the ancient Celts, her tales are filled with fierce warriors, bold women, otherworldly creatures, magic and romance. When not writing, she works as an editor/proofreader and practices target archery. She can be found online at

Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author
(all info provided by author)

January 11, 2015

Alaska: Jim Misko Says There’s So Much Good To Say

Everyone wants to come to Alaska. They’ve heard about it, talked about it, questioned if it’s always dark or always cold and do the bears really eat all of you? Then there are the moose and the giant King Salmon. And the scenery. And the whales jumping out of the water.

All true. At times. On a good summer day, a day when the sun comes up at 3:00 am and the moose are nibbling the blossom’s off my wife’s roses while we sleep and golden beams are lasering their way down the snow covered slopes of Mt. McKinley, it is a true day for living.

When you are looking at a grizzly bear face to face or a bull moose in mating season you can wish you were in Sacramento eating fresh pineapple on the capital steps.
There is so much to say about Alaska that to try and condense it is like trying to drink all the water out of your swimming pool with a milk shake straw in an hour.
Of all the people there, half of them are swimming around the outside edge of Alaska life, not really becoming Alaskans. The other half have feet planted solid on the soil. They live and breathe Alaska. It is not hard to tell them apart. There are the natives and the people who have been there since statehood (1959) and people who went to the one high school in Anchorage.

Then there are the people who come to Alaska and really live it. Some die doing it. Some live the life while young and talk about it when they’re old and the gleam is still in the eye. They may not run the dogs anymore, but the dogs are there and so is the old pickup and one day they’ll just put the dogs to harness and take a spin on the new snow. You never know. They point to the sled and harness hanging on the shed wall. It could be tomorrow or next week.

You can grow old in Alaska whether you try or not. You can buckle your belt below your belly, wear insulated Carhartts in winter, and leave your earflaps down. In the summer your skin can tan and thicken enough to blunt a mosquito’s stiletto. You can sill claim a gold mine, run a wild river, live in a small community, collect your permanent fund dividend and leave when the termination dust hits the high country. You can also get an MFA degree from the University of Alaska, drive a Porsche, wear a suit and tie, and work 9:00 to 5:00.

You can meet them all at the Alyeska Bake shop in Girdwood. Get there before the tour busses and you’ll get the best omelets, the best cinnamon rolls, the best sourdough pancakes and bacon you ever ate. You can walk around that mountain town and feel like an Alaskan.

One photo here is a young bull moose who didn’t think I mattered. He walked past me like I was a tree. 

Gifting a copy of For What He Could Become, to the first person who emails me the original name for the highest peak in North America. Contest ends 1/15/15. Email me at jim@jimmisko.com     May it go well with you. 
Visit me at www.jimmisko.com where you can read the first chapters of any of my novels free. All of my books are on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads, and sometimes on Books-a-million; you never know about them.