May 3, 2015

Linda Swift’s Old Kentucky Home

I am a native Kentuckian, now dividing time between homes here and Florida. Although best known for the Kentucky Derby, there are many other things of interest that I want to mention. Kentucky has an outstanding system of parkways that connect all major points of interest that include state parks with beautiful lodge accommodations. I have visited almost all as a lifetime member of the Kentucky State Poetry Society which holds annual weekend meetings in alternate parks.  My family and I have also spent week-long holidays in many of them. 

From east to west there is great diversity in geography, natural resources, agriculture, and architecture. In the Appalachian mountains of the eastern part of  the state coal mining is king. Berea College, which has only no-tuition students who work for their education, operates Boone Tavern, a hotel and restaurant (home of the unique "spoon bread") and has a gift shop selling students' beautiful hand-crafted items. Several state parks are located in this area including Cumberland Falls State Park which boasts a moonbow, visible on clear nights.

The state capitol, in central Kentucky at Frankfort, is well worth touring. Nearby in Ft. Knox  the US Treasury gold vault is located. A short distance away in Louisville is the internationally known Churchill Downs, home of Derby Day on the first Saturday in May. Many of the famous horse farms are open for visitors. The official nickname "Bluegrass State" refers to the gently rolling hills covered with poa in this region.

Traveling west, Old Talbot Tavern in Bardstown (known as the Bourbon Capitol of the World) is a unique stop for lunch. My Old Kentucky Home State Park offers tours of the antebellum mansion where Stephen Foster wrote the beloved song. In an outdoor theater here the Stephen Foster Story (a musical) has been performed for almost sixty years. For barbeque fans, a well-known stop is the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro.

Strip mining is still being done in this part of the state which is the site of man-made lakes and numerous dams and hydro-electric power plants created and maintained by Tennessee Valley Authority. The New Madrid earthquake in 1811-12 created another body of water called Reelfoot Lake. Western Kentucky is a popular vacation spot for fishermen and boaters. Tobacco was the major crop in the state until recent years. Limestone caves abound here, the largest being Mammoth Cave, called one of the seven wonders of the world. Barkley
Lodge is the most elaborate of several lodges located in state parks in the area.

My city of Paducah was the home of Alben Barkley, vice president (the Veep)in the Roosevelt and Truman years. His memorabilia is displayed in Whitehaven, the only antebellum mansion converted to a state welcome center. After the Ohio River's disastrous flood of 1937, a floodwall was erected  which is now covered with murals depicting the city's history. Steamboats from two major cruise lines make regular stops here in season and passengers tour the restored downtown. I created a Books for Boats program with local authors to meet each boat last summer.

Space will not permit me to mention more of the state's attractions or people. But I want to leave you with these ironic facts. Kentucky was neutral in the Civil War, but claimed 100,000 Union and 40,000 Confederate troops. And Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were both native sons, born one year and 100 miles apart. So you all come to see us. You'll be welcome any time.

Linda Swift divides her time between Florida and her native state of Kentucky. In her other life she was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist in public schools in three states. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first books were published by Kensington. She currently has twelve ebooks (also in print) and nine novellas with three publishers available from Amazon and other distributors. Her Civil War saga, This Time Forever, has been compared to Gone With The Wind and the TV mini-series North and South. Linda considers the adaptation of this book into the film, Clarissa's War, the highlight of her writing career. 

Please leave a comment and your contact info for a chance to win a print or ebook copy of This Time Forever. Good luck on winning!

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April 26, 2015

About Louisiana Boy, Todd~Michael St. Pierre

Louisiana Pride

She is a Lady; Her Treasures I’ve seen…
Steamboats and Bonfires and Creole Cuisine!
Strawberries and Seafood, Sugarcane and Rice,
Mardi Gras, Cotton and Hot Cajun Spice!
Marshlands and Campgrounds, Bayous and Beaches,
Melons, Pecans and don’t forget peaches!
She’s the Belle of the Ball! What else can I say?
She’s magic and music and Cafe au Lait!
Down by the levee near a plantation gate…
Where pirogues drift and festivals wait!
She’s Spanish-Moss Mornings, A place I know well…
A walk by the River, a distant church bell!
She’s Saints and Sinners! Indulgent yet, Divine…
A lot more fun than the other 49!
She’s Zydeco, Gospel, She’s Blues and She’s Jazz…
Just something about her no other state has!
It goes without saying; It’s a feeling inside…
Louisiana MY HOMELAND… Louisiana MY PRIDE!!!

By Todd~Michael St. Pierre
ENTER TO WIN THIS WAY: Prize is one copy personally inscribed and autographed of my bestselling New Orleans Cookbook...
"Taste of Tremé: Creole, Cajun & Soul Food From New Orleans' Famous Neighborhood of Jazz."   Leave your email contact and, if you win, we’ll get your info!


Todd-Michael St. Pierre, Cajun & Creole Foodie and south Louisiana native, is the author of popular cookbooks, like 1-Taste of Tremé 2-The Southern Po’Boy Cookbook 3-Who Dat Cookin’ & 4-Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Filé Gumbo! And of Children’s picture books, including, A Piece of Sky, Aidan and the Anteater, Fat Tuesday, Zinnias & The Crawfish Family Band! He has served as a judge for The Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest & has developed recipes for Cooking Light magazine. Todd-Michael’s books have been featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Advocate, The Times-Picayune, The Denver Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Meal, Southern Living Magazine, Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine, Country Living Magazine & on AOL Food. He also contributes, as a writer, to elementary & middle-school textbooks published by Oxford University Press. Check out his website
(Info provided by Author) 

April 19, 2015

Joyce Ann Brown and Her Kansas Byways

I live in Kansas, a block from the Missouri state line in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. 
Kansas City, Kansas lies miles to the north and is another K.C. suburb. I’ve lived, worked, and own property on both sides of the state line. I consider myself a Kansas-Citian more than a Kansan. Other urbanites may relate.

It’s not to say I don’t appreciate the beauty and bounty of Kansas. It’s pure pleasure to leave the interstates and visit the many attractions the state offers.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson  houses the country’s second largest collection of space memorabilia. 

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, near Strong City has awesome trails for hiking or horseback riding. The experience of walking through the waist-high Bluestem grasses, with miles of Flint Hills visible in every direction, feels like freedom. The Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan tells the story of Bluestem grasses and their importance.

For those who love architecture or historical buildings or just plain beauty, a visit to the renovated state capitol in Topeka will steal your heart. All the original bronze columns, railings, and ceiling décor have been polished, historic murals have been refurbished, and the maze-like limestone basement is a museum of Kansas history.

Kansas people are outdoorsy, and the state provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature—hunting, fishing, birding, hiking, and, of course, photography, not to mention vehicular sports. The land is not only gorgeous, but it’s diverse. Divided into four geographical regions, Eastern Wooded Hills, Flint Hills, Central Prairie, and Western High Plains, a person can travel the scenic byways of each and never see the same kind of topography. and
What? You thought Kansas was flat? Flat is relative—there’re no Smoky Mountains, no Grand Canyon. However, only the Central Prairie is flat, and it gradually slopes toward the high plains, which are punctuated with buttes, chalk formations, and dry canyons. 

 I have two friends who grew up on farms on the Kansas prairie. They both attended one-room schools until eighth grade.
 My friend who lived close to the Oklahoma border says the prairie land there is very flat, and a person can see tornadoes coming for miles, à la Dorothy and Toto.  Wichita, with its plethora of museums and attractions, is the largest city nearby. She loves driving through the Flint Hills on I-35. Every year, she still drives to Winfield to attend the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival and
enjoy fiddlers and banjo musicians from around the world.

My other friend lived only six miles from the Nebraska border on productive land which her dad farmed with horses in the early days. At that time, families lived close. With today’s machinery and irrigation methods, fewer farmers are needed for vast acreages. This friend suggests people should travel the secondary roads, such as Highway 36, the Pony Express Highway, and stop off in the small towns, each of which has its Indian museum, statue, cemetery, or
unique wildlife (à la the black squirrels of Marysville.) Be sure to eat at cafés where you see pickups in front.

Camp out in Western Kansas for spectacular stargazing. Travel through the Flint Hills at nightfall in the early spring to witness dramatic controlled burns, which can be seen for miles. Birders, visit Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend for a view of the millions of birds soaring over the 

Kansas flyway. Art and ethnic lovers, go to a Swedish festival in artsy Lindsborg. During your travels, you may see bison (usually now fenced) in many parts of the state.

Joyce Ann Brown’s Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries are set in Kansas City, on both sides of the state line. Beth, the landlady, likes to hike, garden, and coddle small animals. Solving the mysteries discovered by Sylvester, aka Psycho Cat, is foreign to her peaceful, nature-loving soul. But—she does find the problem-solving to be stimulating. 

Comment here for a chance to win the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery of your choice. Leave your easiest contact info so Joyce can find you if you win! 

Award-winning author Joyce Ann Brown’s, first book of her “Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries” series, CATastrophic Connections, was published in 2014. A klutzy Kansas City landlady, with the help of a psycho cat, searches for her missing niece who has been framed for embezzlement and murder. To vindicate her niece, she must bring the true evildoer to justice.

The second book, FURtive Investigation, was published in March, 2015. Psycho Cat discovers a trunk containing a human skeleton in a duplex attic. Beth, the landlady, searches on her own when, on orders from higher-ups, the cold case investigation is curtailed by law enforcement. She has to discover the identities of victim and perpetrator without becoming a casualty herself.

Visit here to learn more about cozy mystery author and freelance writer, Joyce Ann Brown and why she writes what she does. 
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