May 1, 2016

Back Home in Kentucky-Again with Linda Swift



Last year I told you about the diversity of Kentucky and its attractions. Now I'd like to share what this state means to me. I was born on my grandparents western Kentucky farm (in the Jackson Purchase region) in the post-depression years before World War II. My daddy, a school teacher, was paid only for months taught which left us returning to the farm each summer. To have year around work, Daddy finally took a job as
insurance salesman in Paducah, largest city in the Purchase located at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. (population 25,000 which temporarily doubled during WWII influx of atomic plant workers.)

Following the war, we moved to Southeast Missouri but when I graduated high school, I returned to Paducah to work with the intention of saving money for college. However, love intervened when I met and married a Paducah boy and soon we left Kentucky to follow his jobs with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Four times, we returned to Kentucky until our retirement (I had graduated Murray State College and become a teacher). Then we ventured out of the Tennessee Valley all over the US and England as my husband worked for private power plants, always returning to Kentucky and Paducah, also known as River City by locals.


Now we winter in Florida but call Paducah home. Many of the downtown stores have moved to the Kentucky Oaks Mall out by I-24. The downtown Irvin Cobb Hotel is an apartment building now and many new motels have replaced it out by the mall. The riverfront looks much the same except for the murals painted on the flood wall built after the disastrous 1937 flood. And the steamboats of two major cruise lines dock here several times each season. I launched a Books for Boats program with three local authors to offer our books at each docking. And the highlight of the season was presenting a program on one steamboat about my Civil War novel.

After becoming a blight on the city, the downtown is thriving again and includes interesting shops, a variety of restaurants, horse-drawn carriage rides, museums, and more. Several city blocks known as Lower Town, have been designated an Arts District which attracts many artisans to locate here. Perhaps the best known feature of our city is the National Quilt Museum that now attracts 40,000 visitors during the annual Quilters' Week. Most gratifying to me was restoration of Whitehaven, the antebellum home built for a former mayor, now operated by DOT as a KY Welcome Center. One of my first books (still available) was set in the mansion.

It seems fitting that the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis was neutral  in the Civil War. Since slaves  comprised almost twenty percent of the state's population in 1860, it was the epitome of "brother against brother." This border state's significance was expressed by Lincoln's words: "I hope to have God on my side but I must have Kentucky." Just as I keep returning to Kentucky, I keep writing about the Civil War.
I will be giving a print copy of Seasons of the Heart, a new collection of three Civil War novellas. The winner will be drawn from names of those who leave comments.  http://amzn.com/B0189BJCLE
                                                             
You can also download a free copy of the first story, A Season for Miracles, at this link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/547797

You will find me here every day: https://www.facebook.com/linda.swift.359?fref=ts
Please visit me at my website here: http://www.lindaswift.net/
You may see all of my books at this link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Books+by+Linda+Swift
(all info provided by author) 

April 24, 2016

Oak, Cypress, Spanish Moss and Pamela S. Thibodeaux-So Much in Louisiana



To some folks, Louisiana is still considered a backwoods state with dirt roads, pirogues and alligators swimming in the yard. And, when most people think of Louisiana, they think New Orleans and assume every city is like the Crescent City.
So not true!

Sure oak and cypress trees draped in Spanish moss shroud the bayous in an air of mystery, but the roads are plenty and paved. Alligators are not used as ‘Louisiana Guard Dogs’ either.
True, we spell things funny like Go “Geaux” Tigers and many are proud members of the ‘Who Dat’ nation, but, all in all, we’re just like everyone else who exhibit hospitality and pride in our sports teams.
We are a people who, when forced from our homes in Nova Scotia, survived by learning to live off the land and eat what we could trap, kill, catch or grow. Crawfish (aka: crayfish) and crabs are delicacies and best eaten when boiled in spices along with corn and potatoes.
We are also one of the few (if not the only) state that has ‘parishes’ in lieu of ‘counties.’

It is in this area rich in History and culture, that I was born. I’m from SW Louisiana, the town of Iowa, just 43 miles east of the TX border. My family history goes way back into the earliest settlers of Calcasieu Parish – which is one of the 3rd largest in the state. I grew up on boiled seafood, fried fish, gumbo and rice and gravy. In fact, if you go to some of the mom & pop diners in Louisiana, you can find treats such as a Cajun Delite or Gummy burger which is served on sweet, jalapeno bread one with Crawfish Etoufe’ on top  of the hamburger patty.
Festivals are a big part of our culture, from Mardi Gras to Contraband Days. Iowa is also home of the Rabbit Festival. 

No matter where you go or what you do, you’re bound to have a blast in Louisiana.

My book The Visionary is set in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on a piece of property that once belonged in my family. The History surrounding this property goes all the way back to Jean LaFitte, the gentleman pirate who was a friend of Joseph and Laonise LeBleu, my great-great grandparents. Known as ‘Grandma Jo,’ Laonise was quite a character as Taylor Forestier, my heroine, discovers while researching the property. A pipe supply company now owns the place where my ancestors made a home, but the history lives on, in my book and others that tell the story of Lake Charles / Calcasieu Parish’s earliest settlers.


And what luck for you! I'm Giving Away: An E copy (Kindle, Nook or other E reader) of The Visionary....Leave a comment and your contact info for your chance! 

So if you ever find yourself in SW Louisiana, or traveling through, stop by Iowa or Lake Charles and see what we have to offer. Have lunch at one of our seafood diners and take a walk along the beach or seawall. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself. Discover more by visiting our Tourist Bureau’s website: http://www.visitlakecharles.org/

Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Links:
Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com  
Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib


Purchase Links:
Amazon Hardcover http://amzn.to/n8as1b 
Print @Create Space: http://bit.ly/1lNvyWD  
Deeper Shopping http://bit.ly/19lw1Kc  
(info provided by author)

April 17, 2016

Not So Crazy Kansas with Andrea Buginsky



When my husband and I moved from Florida to Kansas three years ago, our families and friends thought we were a little crazy. We didn’t know anyone here, and I had never been here before. My husband lived her for a couple of years when he was a teenager, and has always remembered it as his favorite place to live. So we decided to make the move. As an author, I can work from anywhere, so it had no effect on my career whatsoever.

Kansas City offers great shopping at the Plaza, wonderful shows at Starlight Theatre, Royals baseball, and Chiefs football.

But only fifteen minutes south is my little corner of the world, Overland Park. I love my wonderful town. It’s close enough to the city to enjoy all it has to offer, but in the beautiful suburban area that’s a lot less crowded. Overland Park has some wonderful sites of its own.

One of my favorite spots is the Arboretum, a 300-acre park made up of botanical gardens and the arboretum itself. Around 85% of the Arboretum is dedicated to preserving and restoring eight natural ecosystems. I love walking around the different areas of the park, seeing all the beautiful exhibits, flowers, trees, and statues. There’s a huge pond in the middle filled with coy fish that I could watch for hours.
As a writer, I find the whole area a sanctuary to let things go, clear my thoughts, breathe in mother nature, and perhaps come up with some beautiful scenery for my books. I’ve taken several pictures of the exhibits and love to flip through them from time to time.

A newer area of Overland Park I’ve recently discovered is Cinetopia, a unique movie complex with various theaters sporting a variety of themes. My favorite is the Living Room theater, where I can recline and put my feet up while enjoying the movie, and even order concessions to be delivered right to my seat. Prairiefire, a unique shopping center with a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment complexes. There’s a huge bowling alley and even a museum. It’s a great place to spend the day.
There’s even an in-theater restaurant. Cinetopia is located at

My third favorite place is the Louisburg Cider Mill, located about an hour south of Overland Park. The drive itself on US 69 is incredible, as you pass by beautiful farmlands. The cider mill provides a unique experience of watching the entire process of the cider being made, from the apples being rinsed and deposited into the mill, to the grinding and dispensing of the cider. There’s a wonderful country store where you can buy the delicious cider, along with other novelty items. I love stopping for fresh cider on days we want to go on long rides.

I might not have discovered a lot of Overland Park in the three years I’ve been here, but the areas I have discovered have been wonderful and unique. I’ve published two books since moving here, Fate and Striker’s Apprentice, and am currently writing my seventh book. I still have plenty of places I want to check out, including the rest of Prairiefire and the Farmer’s Market. I can’t wait to share my new experiences with you next year.
 
I’m offering up a mobi or nook copy of one of my books, winner's choice.
For more visit http://andreabuginskyauthor.blogspot.com/
(info provided by author)