November 23, 2014

Washington State—Wacky and Wonderful with Jacquie Rogers

Washington State, the Coffee Capital of America and home of Mount St. Helens, the Space Needle, Bigfoot, the Appaloosa, lots of apples.  Its climate and terrain is diverse in the extreme, from the temperate rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula to the rolling hills of the Palouse, our version of prairie, in the eastern half of the state.  Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington State with a summit elevation of 14,411 feet.  Yep, it’s an active volcano and overdue to erupt, but so far isn’t showing any signs of it.

When in Washington, be aware that anything east of the Cascade Mountains is called Eastern Washington, so Ellensburg, which is right square in the middle of the state, is located in Eastern Washington.  That always confused me.  Apparently, no one knows the term “central” here.

Washington is also home to the Driloleirus (Giant Palouse Earthworm—three feet long!), and in St. John, the Codger Pole, which is the tallest chainsaw carving in the world, standing 65 feet.  In Seattle, you’ll find Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe with its famous mummies, Sylvester and Sylvia.  Anything you want to know about Jimi Hendrix, you’ll find in the Experience Music Project Museum.  Want to see the world’s largest frying pan?  It’s in Longview in the southwest corner of the state. 

Obsessed with dinosaurs?  Head to Granger, Washington, and visit Dinosaur Town.  Don’t forget to stop at the Volcano Toilets.  For a change of pace, travel to Spokane to see Marvin Carr's One of a Kind in the World Museum where you can sit in one of Elvis’ cars, and see the skin of Fritz, a 16-foot boa constrictor who electrocuted himself.

If you’re an apple aficionado, head to Wenatchee, where you can also do a little white water rafting, and if you have a sweet tooth while you’re there, try my daughter’s favorite, Aplets and Cotlets. 

Come visit!  We can chat over a couple grande triple-shot lattes (make mine skinny).

Jacquie’s latest release is Sleight of Heart, set in Colorado and Nevada.  Also available is her Hearts of Owyhee series set in Owyhee (the original spelling of Hawaii) County, which is in Southwest Idaho where she grew up.  She currently lives and plays in Seattle, Washington.  Sign up for her newsletter, the Pickle Barrel Bar & Books, at or visit her website at

Sleight of Heart,
Hearts of Owyhee:
Much Ado About Marshals,
Much Ado About Madams,
Much Ado About Mavericks,
(Pictures Provided by Author)

November 16, 2014

Isla Grey-Her Voice from Virginia

Welcome to the Commonwealth of Virginia!  From the miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline to the wonder of the Blue Ridge Mountains and everything in between, Virginia is filled with plenty of historical and natural beauty and is the perfect place to be for a getaway for a day or that long awaited family vacation.

As you can tell, I’m enthusiastic about the “Old Dominion”.  Parts of my family first arrived in Williamsburg and eventually migrated to the Buckingham area well before the Revolutionary War.  In turn, I’ve always lived in the Central Virginia area and while I love to travel to other places, there’s nothing better than seeing that “Welcome To Virginia” sign on the way home.  

The natural beauty is breathtaking and inspiring.  Not only do we have miles of shoreline and “The Parkway” (a.k.a. The Blue Ridge Parkway that we share with North Carolina), just off the beaten path, you’ll find the wonders of Natural Bridge, the stalactites and stalagmites of the Luray Caverns and the incredible Great Falls of the Potomac.  The incredible waterfall that is   Just be sure to have your hiking shoes ready because it’s a long walk along the winding   The view from the top, however, is well worth it.
Crabtree Falls is one of my favorites.

If there’s one thing Virginia is known for, it’s History.  Starting in 1608, the soon to be colony, was the home of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World.  Virginia is the site of a number of Revolutionary War and Civil War skirmishes and Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of   The Commonwealth is also known as the home to eight U.S. Presidents.  George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello are popular   My favorite historical place?  Hands down, it has to be Colonial Williamsburg.  I love walking the old streets at night and visiting the Governor’s Palace.  I recommend stopping at the King’s Arms Tavern on the main stretch; just make sure you arrive early.
thousands of service members.

We still have the pony swims on Chincoteague Island and while the wine industry is booming, Virginia is fast becoming a popular destination for moviemakers.  Parts of “Lincoln”, “Cold Mountain”, “Gods and Generals” and scenes from TV’s “John Adams” and “TURN” have all been filmed in Virginia.  There are also plenty of educational opportunities with Virginia being home to such colleges as William and Mary, Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and James Madison University, just to name a few.
So how does Virginia inspire me as a writer?  Each story I’ve written has been influenced, in part, by   The waterfall at the end of the Natural Bridge trail and even the color of one of the rooms at the Governor’s Palace inspired an idea for a story.  Parts of a conversation I had with my grandmother about cooking show up in a current story that I’m doing the last round of edits on.   In my novella, “A Voice in the Dark”, a scene between two of the main characters takes place near train tracks.  Trust me.  I live close enough to these train tracks to know they’re very real…and LOUD.  Another reason to love Virginia!

Stay up to the minute my stories and movie mistakes articles at:

Isla Grey’s Website -
(All Information Provided by Author)

November 9, 2014

Vermont in Color with Gianna Bruno

Thanks to Annette for inviting me to participate in the Fifty Authors From Fifty States blog project. I'm holed up here in my hideaway in Southern Vermont, where the foliage is just past peak, and we're getting ready for winter. Up here, that means having plenty of wood by your door for those cold, snowy nights, parking your car facing out, tossing a bag of the old fashioned, non clumping cat litter in the trunk along with a shovel in case you get stuck, and making sure you have a flashlight and blanket in the car.

I live in ski country, were a good bit of the economy is tied to the snow—and I love it! Nothing cheers me more than watching it fall. The pines sag under the weight, and the naked trees are frosted white. It's dry and cold, so the snow often squeaks under your boots and when the skis run over it. And the wind—well let's just say famed Olympic skier Jean Claude Killy once commented that the coldest place he'd ever skied was
Mount Snow, Vermont.

In short, there is plenty to inspire a paranormal author like myself, who specializes in the spicier end of the romance genres, but comes back to the real world from time to time and makes her living as a freelance journalist. Just like the tough times—the winter ends and the trees come back to life.

My novelette Hot Chocolate Kiss was inspired by gusts so strong one day they stopped me dead as I was skiing down a particularly steep and exposed trail. And the scene where the lift attendant warns Keela about the wind chill really happened—and by the time I got down the mountain I couldn't hear, feel my hands or feet or face.

Why do we live here, and play out in such extreme conditions? For me, it's the beauty of nature touched by the warmth of good times shared with family and friends. Precious memories drew me back here, in the aftermath of a divorce and the loss of numerous friends and family members to distance and death. I'm looking forward to getting back to basics-and to writing--so I can put that all behind. Just like the tough times—the winter ends and the trees come back to life. The brooks run fast from melting snow and the lakes welcome kayaks and canoes instead of snowmobiles and cross country skiers.
Things have changed here, with far too much development including strip malls replacing general stores and high priced resorts and country clubs commandeering precious mountainsides.
I can only ski at Haystack now if I am a guest of a member. And I will only ski at Mount Snow, mid week, in the morning, before the hordes arrive. Forget about the over built and developed central Vermont ski areas that sell lift tickets to more people than the mountain can safely accommodate.

But I can still leave my cross country skis on the porch, step outside into a winter wonderland with my dog and bushwhack through the trees, catching a glimpse of deer, beavers, and it is rumored, bears. I prefer this to the urban jungle of New York City—any day, anytime, any season.

Gianna Bruno writes science fiction and fantasy with such a light touch you might not even notice the witches, ghosts and fairies. Aliens, well, they stand out. Her writing is usually romantic, often wicked, sometimes mainstream, and always experimental.